The Age of Streaming Services and Disney’s Lawsuit
Streaming Services: The Leaders of Entertainment During the Pandemic
With the COVID-19 pandemic still having its residual effects on an international level, streaming movies, TV, and more from home has become the norm. Disney+, particularly, has taken the lead among other competitors such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and Paramount+ in the world of video streaming.
As streaming becomes the norm, however, it is safe to assume that the world of box office theatrical cinema is dwindling. As of May 2020, more than half of both 18-34-year-olds and 35-44-year-olds have a subscription to a streaming service. This number has only increased in the past year with the effects of the pandemic keeping individuals at home more than ever.
Even before the pandemic, streaming services and technology were at their peak, but with lockdown measures in place, the number of subscriptions to streaming services has topped over 1 billion, all while box office sales dramatically dipped by over $18 billion. Despite movie theaters opening up in recent months, this direct-to-consumer streaming strategy has proven to be more profitable and preferred over traditional movie-going. The popularity of such services, however, has offset the loss from a drastic plunge in movie theater audiences.
Last week, Scarlett Johansson, the star of Marvel’s Black Widow and a highly awarded actress sued Disney for releasing the anticipated prequel on its streaming service, Disney+, at the same time as its theatrical debut. Johansson’s expected salary was supposed to come primarily from the film’s box office performance, and the simultaneous debut cut into her profit. Nonetheless, Disney stated that such a lawsuit and filing was “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The opening weekend of Black Widow grossed $70 million and over $60 million from digital sales, however, the second week saw a dip by 67% in box office sales. As far as Marvel movies go, Black Widow had a rather slow opening week, however, given the state of the world following a global pandemic, this is one of the best performing films this year.
Johansson and her team wish to take the lawsuit to court to combat this breach of her contract. Although, as streaming services become the norm and overpower the revenue made from the traditional box office, theatrical debuts alongside a streaming debut will become more common to bring a wider audience with direct and immediate access to it through the comfort of their own homes and a click of a button.