- Early data shows that “Shang-Chi” isn’t being pirated as much as other Disney movies this year.
- “Shang-Chi” is only in theaters, while “Black Widow” and “Jungle Cruise” also streamed on Disney+.
- “Shang-Chi” could have a stronger hold at the box office in its second weekend than “Black Widow.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” dominated the box office over the weekend with $90 million over the four-day holiday.
It’s a welcome piece of news for theater owners who have insisted that the strategy of releasing a movie simultaneously to theaters and streaming is hurting their industry. “Shang-Chi,” unlike previous Disney releases during the pandemic like “Black Widow,” will be exclusive to theaters for at least 45 days.
A major part of the theater owners’ argument is that a simultaneous release increases piracy.
“When a movie is released simultaneously to a streaming service, a pristine copy of that movie is made available day one that it’s in cinemas,” John Fithian, the CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), told Insider during a recent interview.
Data does suggest piracy could have been a complication for streaming releases.
“Black Widow,” another Marvel movie that premiered in theaters and on Disney+ for an additional $30 fee, was the No. 1 most pirated movie for three weeks in a row on the piracy-news website TorrentFreak’s weekly rankings, including the week it debuted.
“Jungle Cruise,” which Disney released using the same strategy as “Black Widow,” was the third most pirated movie on TorrentFreak’s list the week it premiered, following “F9” (which became available to rent on digital platforms that week), and “Black Widow.” It was the second most pirated movie the following two weeks, topped only by “The Suicide Squad,” which was available to stream on HBO Max while in theaters.
Disney’s animated “Raya and the Last Dragon” also topped the most pirated lists two weeks in a row after it premiered in theaters and on Disney+ in March.
“Shang-Chi,” however, has lagged. It was No. 5 on this week’s TorrentFreak list, which accounted for the week ending on Monday.
Here were the top five:
- “Don’t Breathe 2” – became available on video-on-demand platforms on Friday
- “The Protégé” – only in theaters
- “The Suicide Squad” – was available on HBO Max through Sunday
- “Cinderella” – streaming on Amazon Prime Video
- “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” – only in theaters
“Black Widow” earned $80 million domestically in its debut weekend, the most of any movie so far this year for its first three days of release. And Disney said it made $60 million from Disney+ purchases during its first weekend. It’s still the biggest movie at the US box office of the year so far with $182 million (it’s earned $372 million worldwide).
But Fithian thinks “Shang-Chi” will have a stronger hold in its second weekend than “Black Widow,” which dropped 67.9%. It also dropped 41% from its first Friday to Saturday, an unusually steep decline for a Marvel movie.
Fithian said “Black Widow’s” drop “was dramatic because the pirated copies were available in less than 24 hours.”