Black Widow: Scarlett Johansson has decided to sue Disney for launching Black Widow on its streaming platform, Disney+. According to The Wall Street Journal, the actress claims that her salary was mainly tied to the movie’s box office, and that the simultaneous release in theaters and Disney+ would be a breach of contract.
“Disney intentionally induced Marvel to break the contract, without justification, to prevent Ms. Johansson from receiving all the benefits of her agreement with Marvel,” the lawsuit says.
During 2020 and 2021, several producers opted for simultaneous releases in theaters and on streaming platforms, to try to minimize the impacts of the new coronavirus pandemic. For John Berlinski, a lawyer at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, who represents Scarlett Johansson, this decision by the studios could initiate a series of other lawsuits.
“This will certainly not be the last case where Hollywood stars face Disney and make it clear that no matter what the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts,” said Berlinski.
Also according to the newspaper, Johansson’s concern that his last film on the MCU would also be released on Disney+ dates back to 2019. At the time, the actress’ representatives got in touch with Marvel to ensure that Black Widow had an exclusive release in theaters.
In a March 2019 email — which was included in the process — Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi said the deal involved a launch on the traditional theatrical model. He added: “We understand that if the plan changes, we will need to discuss this with you and reach a common understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses.”