Marvel and Disney now find themselves opposing one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s beloved actors, Scarlett Johansson, after she announced she is suing the company because of the Black Widow release. She alleges the simultaneous release of Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ was a breach of contract.
The Background on the Movie
Apparently, Scarlett Johansson signed a contract with Marvel and Disney. It stated that she’ll be getting a certain percentage of the profits once the movie hits theaters exclusively. Now, the movie didn’t do too well in the cinemas. But people have to remember there’s still a global pandemic raging. There are millions of people who will not step foot in a theater just yet. Usually, when actors sign with a studio that they will receive a certain percentage of the profits, they come out very well because movies — especially the Marvel ones — make millions of dollars at the box office.
Keep this in mind as we go forward.
Now the Black Widow release date was constantly pushed back. It was originally supposed to debut back in May 2020, and we all saw how that turned out. It was also supposed to be exclusively in theaters, not on Disney+.
After a while, though, the company did have to pick the release date. If they sit on a movie for too long, then moviegoers could potentially lose interest no matter what. And with people hesitant to go to the theaters altogether, they could be in a lose-lose situation. Release the movie but nobody sees it, or wait and let people forget it exists and ultimately lose interest. So to try and combat that, Marvel released the movie on Disney+ and in theaters at the same time. That way, they could make as much money as possible.
Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit
Johansson claims that the studio is in breach of its contract. She was an executive producer, giving her a lot of say behind the scenes, and she’s now seeking damages. She also claims that a large part of her salary for the film would be based on the film’s box office haul. Since they released it on Disney+ — a streaming service that wasn’t in her contract — she isn’t owed any of the profits from there. What’s more, she claims that she reached out to the studio to renegotiate their contract but was met with radio silence hence the lawsuit.
Disney has now responded with a comment on the matter, reading: “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 $20 million she has received to date.”
We’ll keep you updated on this situation as more details become available. I believe this is something that could get dragged out, depending on how bad each side wishes to paint the other. But in the end, it’ll probably be settled outside of court for an “undisclosed” amount of money.