Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over ‘Black Widow’ release

Scarlett Johansson, who starred in Marvel’s Black Widow, will be suing Disney for the way the film was released. Black Widow was released early in July. It was available in theaters, and on the streaming platform, Disney+. 

Johansson said that the movie’s release both in theaters and on streaming platforms was a breach of contract after she was “guaranteed” that the film would only be released in theaters. The low number of ticket sales caused this film to be among the lowest-earning Marvel films of all time. Johansson’s bonus is dependent on box office sales.

Disney called Johansson’s accusations “callous” in the midst of a pandemic where people don’t have the means to safely visit theaters. On Thursday, Disney wrote in a heated statement that it “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.”

The lawsuit would cost Johansson close to $50 million, but the actress refuses to back down. Her lawyer, John Berlinski, told Variety that Disney released the film on streaming platforms to increase subscription “and thereby boost the company’s stock price — and that it’s hiding behind COVID-19 as a pretext to do so. 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 can look forward to proving as much in court.”

Johansson’s bold case could inspire other actors to pursue similar cases, as many actors have been put in this position because of the pandemic, and increased popularity of streaming platforms.


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