Marvel star Scarlett Johansson, who donned the role of Black Widow in the MCU for years, is now in a legal battle with Disney. The Avengers actor is suing Disney for releasing the Black Widow movie on their streaming platform Disney+ simultaneously with its theatrical release.
Johansson’s legal representatives filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, July 29. They argued that Disney breached their contract with her by releasing Black Widow on their streaming platform Disney+ during the window of theatrical release for the movie. According to the contract, the salary that Johansson would earn from the movie was tied to Black Widow’s box office performance, as reported by WSJ. Johansson was also an executive producer on the film.
In its opening weekend, Black Widow earned $80 million and $78 million worldwide. On the other hand, Disney revealed that they earned $60 million on its Premier Access. In the lawsuit, Johansson’s lawyer John Berlinski wrote:
This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts.
Disney fires back at Scarlett Johansson, saying she completely disregarded the effects of the pandemic
Soon after the news of the lawsuit leaked, Disney quite unceremoniously released a statement. In it, they condemned Scarlett Johansson and her lawsuit, firing back at her with their statement to Deadline, saying:
There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.
Despite the suddenness of the lawsuit, Disney had already made clear they would debut Black Widow in theatres and Disney+. Before the film’s release, Black Widow director Cate Shortland said that Disney will release the film on streaming. And the primary reason they gave for this decision was the COVID-19 pandemic. She said:
Well, we made this film to be seen in cinemas, and it’s not so much seen in cinemas, it’s felt in cinemas because we created the sound, and the music, and just the huge beautiful spectacle was to be seen on a big screen. So, as a director, I want people, if they’re safe, to see it in that environment, but I know some people can’t for a lot of reasons. So, it’s really cool that other people will still get to see the movie.
Apart from Disney, Warner Bros. also released their entire 2021 film catalog on HBO Max. For that decision, they got backlash from Christopher Nolan himself, who is against streaming sites in general. What do you guys think of this legal move by Scarlett Johansson? Let us know in the comments below.