Actress Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney. The reason was the simultaneous release of the film “Black Widow” in cinemas and on streaming Disney +. The actress believes that the company’s strategy negatively impacted her royalties, which were tied to the box office. Disney said they did not violate the contract, and the digital release, on the contrary, is beneficial to Johansson. The lawsuit of the actress in the company was called “soulless disregard” for the consequences of the pandemic.
The actress is suing Disney over lost money for her role in Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson, who starred in the latest Marvel film “Black Widow,” has filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Supreme Court against Disney. Johansson believes Disney’s decision to release the film simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming service Disney + violated her contract. The fact is that the actress’s fee was tied to the box office of the film, and in her agreement with Marvel Entertainment, the exclusive release of “Black Widow” in cinemas was spelled out.
“Disney deliberately forced Marvel to violate the agreement without any reason in order to prevent Mrs. Johansson from fully realizing the benefits of her deal with Marvel,” The Wall Street Journal quoted the lawsuit as saying. During the premiere weekend, “Black Widow” raised $ 80 million in theaters in the United States and Canada – and set a record for the pandemic. However, the next weekend, fees fell to 26 million. This fall was the worst in the history of the MCU. The National Association of Theater Owners in the United States linked the downturn in profits to the film’s release on Disney +.
A source from The Wall Street Journal, familiar with the terms of the contract between Johansson and Marvel, estimated that the actress lost part of the fee at $ 50 million. It is not known how much money the release of “Black Widow” brought to Disney on streaming, but in its first weekend at Disney +, the film earned $ 60 million.
The release date of the film was repeatedly postponed due to the pandemic
Black Widow was first announced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. Then it was planned that the film will be released on screens on May 1, 2020. In March 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the premiere was postponed “indefinitely.” And then there was this:
- in April 2020, the premiere was moved to November ;
- in September 2020 – as of May 2021 ;
- and in April 2021 – for July.
The decision to release the film simultaneously in theaters and streaming was driven in part by the pandemic. Due to session restrictions, 100% of tickets cannot be sold – and this has a negative effect on fees. Previously, Disney refused to show the movie Mulan and the cartoon Luka in theaters. It was only possible to watch them in the US on Disney +. Film Company Warner Bros. started releasing her films in theaters and online at the same time – and was forced to pay an additional $ 10 million to Gal Gadot for her role in Wonder Woman: 1984.
Disney called the actress’ claims unfounded, and her lawsuit “soulless”
After filing the claim, company representatives said that the terms of the contract with Johansson had not been violated, and there were no grounds for the claim. The statement also said that the early release of the film on Disney + helped the actress “earn additional compensation on top of the $ 20 million she has already received.” Disney added that Johansson’s lawsuit is “particularly sad and distressing for its soulless disregard for the dire and lasting global fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.”
At the same time, as stated in the actress’s lawsuit, she began to discuss the release of “Black Widow” with the Marvel studio back in 2019. Johansson’s representatives wanted assurances that the film would only be released in theaters. Attached to the lawsuit is a letter from Marvel General Counsel Dave Galluzzi, in which he assures that the premiere will take place according to plan – in cinemas. “We understand that if the plan changes, then we will need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding since the deal includes several (very large) bonuses based on box office,” – said in the letter.
Johansson emphasizes that her representatives tried to renegotiate the terms of the contract after they learned that “Black Widow” will be released both in the movies and online at the same time. Disney and Marvel, it is argued in the lawsuit, have not responded to the requests of the actress and her lawyers.