Scarlett Johansson alleges that Disney has breached a contract with her
The Marvel star, who got her first big release this month, Scarlett Johansson, has filed a lawsuit against Disney on Thursday at the Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges that Disney has broken a contract with the actress by releasing the highly anticipated film of this year, “Black Widow,” on its streaming service Disney+ when it was only supposed to be a theatrical release. According to the suit, Scarlett’s salary from this project is solely based on the film’s box office haul. However, releasing the movie simultaneously in theatres as well as Disney+ has resulted in a big loss for Scarlett. The Wall Street Journal claims that this move cost her more than $50 million.
“To maximize these receipts, and thereby protect her financial interests, Ms. Johansson extracted a promise from Marvel that the release of the picture would be a ‘theatrical release,'” the lawsuit mentions. “As Ms. Johansson, Disney, Marvel, and most everyone else in Hollywood knows, a ‘theatrical release’ is a release that is exclusive to movie theatres. Disney was well aware of this promise, but nonetheless directed Marvel to violate its pledge and instead release the picture on the Disney+ streaming service the very same day it was released in movie theatres.”
Johansson gets slammed by the streaming service
However, soon after Scarlett Johansson filed the lawsuit, she got a blistering response from Disney, who called this suit ‘Sad and Distressing.’ “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” said the Disney representative, and that the suit is “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The person further revealed, “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 $20 million she has received to date.”
‘Black Widow’ is the latest movie of Marvel and is the first one that is solely based on a female superhero from the franchise.
The movie was originally supposed to be released in May of 2020, but due to the covid-19 pandemic, it was postponed. However, after its release on 9 July 2021, the movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh earned $80 million in its North America opening in theaters and $60 million globally on Disney+ in its first week of release. However, a few weeks after that, ‘Black Widow’ experienced a sudden downfall.
Is Disney hiding behind the pandemic?
According to the attorney representing Scarlett Johansson in her lawsuit against Disney, the streaming service has taken this step only to increase their subscribers without keeping in mind the artist’s rights. “It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company’s stock price — and that it’s hiding behind Covid-19 as a pretext to do so,” John Berlinski, attorney for Johansson, told CNN Business.
“But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we look forward to proving as much in court, he added. ” This 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.”