Did Walt Disney Pictures release the newest Marvel film, Black Widow, on its streaming service Disney+ at the same time that it debuted in theaters to save money? Well, that’s what actress Scarlett Johansson and her attorneys allege! They have even filed suit in a court of law!
Scarlett Johansson Vs. Disney
Scarlett Johansson, the woman behind Black Widow, and her lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the Disney Corporation, alleging the company breached the star’s contract for the most recent Marvel film. Much of the actress’ compensation for Black Widow was tied to how well it did in the box office. If it met specific benchmarks, she would receive certain bonuses.
“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 lawsuit said. Johansson and her legal team say that Disney released Black Widow on its streaming service to not have to pay the actress the theater-based bonuses.
“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 stated. “To no one’s surprise, Disney’s breach of the Agreement successfully pulled millions of fans away from the theaters and toward its Disney+ streaming service.” Apparently, Johansson lost upwards of $50 million as a result of the company’s decision. Now, the company has responded…
Soon enough, Disney responded to Johansson’s lawsuit, calling it nonsense. “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said. “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 $20M she has received to date,” the spokesperson continued.
However, Johansson’s people were having none of it. “They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t,” Bryan Lourd, Johansson’s representative, said. “The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of.”
A History-Making Lawsuit
“It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney Plus 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,” attorney John Berlinski explained. “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. This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts.”
Johansson‘s lawsuit could produce a massive change in Hollywood. If the actress wins, actors could end up receiving a bigger cut of the streaming portion of the profits. Keep an eye here for more information!