Scarlett Johansson Suing Disney Over Streaming of Black Widow
There’s a story shaking up the Marvel world this morning. Earlier today, reports surface that Scarlett Johansson is suing Walt Disney.
According to various news stories today, the star filed a lawsuit earlier today in Los Angeles Superior Court. The actor says that her contract was breached when the company released Black Widow on its streaming service Disney+ at the same time that it was running at theaters.
According to a story we were following on CNBC, Johansson says that her contract with Disney and Marvel guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release for Black Widow and that her salary for the film was based on box office performance.
A statement from Johansson’s attorney John Berlinkski at Kasowiitz, Benson Torres says, “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.” He continues, “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 said via email.
According to the lawsuit, Johansson and her representatives reached out to the company two years ago regarding the issue. Johannson submitted a supporting document that shows a response from Marvel at that time advising that Black Widow would be released like all of the other Marvel films. The statement from Marvel’s Council reads, “We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses.”
Once the star hear that Black Widow would be released on Disney+ she attempted to renegotiate her contract with Marvel and Disney but did not receive a response.
However, in a response to the filing earlier today, Disney said, “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing.” It continues, “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.”
If you’ve been following along with MickeyBlog during the pandemic, you’ll know that Disney kept pushing back the release date of Black Widow due to the coronavirus. Theaters around the world had to be shuttered during the height of the pandemic. Some films were moved to Disney+ only releases during the pandemic where others were released on streaming (for a $30 access fee) and in movie theaters simultaneously.
Johansson whose turn as Black Widow elevated her to the status of one of Marvel’s most bankable stars negotiated a contract with Disney reliant on box office returns to make up a percentage of her salary. The film was expected to be a box office juggernaut but with COVID-19 still greatly impacting the industry, the numbers didn’t reach the heights of some of the other films in the MCU.
The film earned $80 million at the box office during its opening weekend. While that doesn’t scale the heights of other Disney releases, it did break pandemic box office records earning over $150 million during it’s three week run. Disney+ also brought in and addiitonal $60 million on opening weekend. As CNBC tells us, on average Marvel films usually bring in over $100 million in ticket sales on opening weekend and sometimes go as high as $1 billion in theatrical runs.
You bet that this is a story that we’ll continue to follow closely here at MickeyBlog. Readers are encouraged to keep following along with us for further updates.
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