Update: Shortly after news broke from The Wall Street Journal, Disney gave a comment to publications that stated the following in regards to the Black Widow lawsuit:
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing.”
It further elaborated that Disney finds the lawsuit, “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.”
The original story can be found below.
In an unexpected turn of events, Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over her recent solo MCU outing’s dual-release strategy. In a lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court today, Johansson alleges that the house of mouse made a breach of contract by putting the film on Disney+ day and date with its theatrical release. Along with that, the suit claims lost profits from an exclusive theatrical run that never happened.
“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,” reads the suit. Per Johansson’s contract, she was guaranteed a share of the profits made from the box-office performance of Black Widow. By having the film debut on Disney+ alongside a release in theaters, Disney technically doesn’t need to pay her extra for purchases made on its subscription service.
If you’re wondering why Disney didn’t renegotiate with Johansson, the suit actually brings that up. According to the complaint, representatives of Johansson’s had reached out to both Disney and Marvel in an attempt to cut a better deal, but both companies were unresponsive. This is in direct contrast to Warner Bros., which renegotiated many of its contracts with actors after deciding to debut films on HBO Max this year.
Oddly enough, Johansson was worried about this situation happening as early as 2019. In an email dated March 2019, Marvel’s chief counsel Dave Galluzzi had told her representatives, “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.” Those discussions allegedly never took place.
Johansson’s attorney, John Berlinski, told The Wall Street Journal, “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.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal