Call it Marvel’s Civil War: Part 2…Scarlett Johansson has filed suit against Marvel Studios’ parent company Disney, claiming that the studio’s decision to release her Black Widow on Disney+ on the same day it hit theaters was a breach of her contract.
Johansson’s suit claims that her contract guaranteed Black Widow an exclusive theatrical window before it hit the streaming service, which the simultaneous release eliminated.
As not only the star but one of the executive producers of the film, ScarJo had profit participation “points” tied to the film’s box-office performance. However, with the movie making tens of millions of dollars on Disney+ through its Premiere Access service — instead of in theaters — many believe that cut into the film’s box-office potential, and therefore her bottom line.
The Wall Street Journal quoted one source who estimates putting the film on Disney+ immediately could cost Johansson over $50 million.
John Berlinski, an attorney for the star, said, “It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ 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.”
He continued, “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.”
For its part, Disney responded, calling the suit “without merit.”
“The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the studio maintained, adding, “Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+…has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”
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