Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney For Allegedly Breaching 'Black Widow' Contract
© AP Photo / Joel C RyanActress Scarlett Johansson poses for photographers upon arrival at the 'Avengers Endgame' fan event in London, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
© AP Photo / Joel C Ryan
A spinoff movie about one of the fictional Avengers, Natasha Romanoff, 'Black Widow' has gone through some dramatic shifts in release dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was finally released in theaters and on Disney+ on 29 June worldwide, and on 9 July in the US. However, the drama is still on.
Scarlett Johansson, the Hollywood actress portraying Marvel's Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow, has filed a lawsuit against Disney in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that by releasing the Black Widow movie about her heroine not only in theaters but on Disney+ as well, the studio appears to have breached their contract with her, media reported, after The Wall Street Journal broke the news.
“Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel,” the suit said, cited by Variety.
According to Johansson's legal team, the move by Disney to not release Black Widow exclusively in theaters depressed ticket sales, which, in its turn, affected sales bonuses for the actress' and others in the film with similar contracts.
It was announced in March that Black Widow, along with several other movies, would be released simultaneously, in theaters and on Disney's streaming platform.
After a lot of dramatic re-scheduling due to coronavirus restrictions, Black Widow came out on 9 July in the United States, making, according to Variety, $80 million in North America, $78 million overseas, and $60 million on Disney+. Then, ticket sales plummeted, currently being $319 million around the world, which, the outlet noted, could make Black Widow one of the least commercially-successful Marvel movies.
This, according to Johansson's lawsuit, can be blamed on the studio's choice of dual release.
“Disney chose to placate Wall Street investors and pad its bottom line, rather than allow its subsidiary Marvel to comply with the agreement,” the suit reads. ” To no one’s surprise, Disney’s breach of the Agreement successfully pulled millions of fans away from the theatres and toward its Disney+ streaming service.”
The court document goes on to outline that Disney's decision “not only increased the value of Disney+, but it also intentionally saved Marvel (and thereby itself) what Marvel itself referred to as ‘very large box office bonuses’ that Marvel otherwise would have been obligated to pay Ms. Johansson.”
A Disney spokesperson responded to the lawsuit, saying that "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", the statement said."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.”
Black Widow is a spin-off movie about Natasha Romanoff, a superheroine member of the fictional Avengers, initially set to be released in 2020, as the movie-theater industry saw itself shuttered due to severe coronavirus restrictions.