It seems as though the glittering potential of Walt Disney’s streaming service has blinded them, with Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson suing the company over the simultaneous release of her new film in cinemas and on Disney+, claiming that it’s a breach of contract.
The suit, which was filed on July 29th, reads: “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”. Crucially, the actress claims that her final salary was based on the box office performance of the film, which, whilst opening well with a domestic $80m in the US, steeply declined in the second week when Black Widow was put on Disney+.
Announcement of the lawsuit came alongside a press release from The National Association of Theatre Owners, which stated that the simultaneous release of the film, “Demonstrates that an exclusive theatrical release means more revenue for all stakeholders in every cycle of the movie’s life”.
The suit also claims that Johansson’s lawyers reached out to Disney back in 2019 with concerns of Black Widow’s simultaneous platform release, later trying to renegotiate her contract once this was decided.
A representative of Johansson, John Berlinski, said in a statement, “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 honour its contracts”.
Disney has hit back at this complaint, however, with a statement of their own, reading: “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing…The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Take a look at the trailer for Black Widow, which currently stands as Marvel’s worst financial failure to date.