It seems like there’s trouble in Marvel world.
Last week, Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney for an alleged breach of contract.
According to the lawsuit, Johansson was promised an exclusive theatrical release for the film. In addition, her salary would also be based on the film’s performance at the box office.
Disney released Black Widow in theaters and Disney+ on the same day, a decision which the suit has claimed prevented “Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.”
Black Widow was originally scheduled to be released in May of 2020, but due to the pandemic, its release was delayed to July 2021. The movie grossed $80 million on its opening weekend in the U.S., as well as $60 million on Disney+, making for pretty good numbers since the start of the pandemic.
Globally, it made about $318 million – one of the lowest-grossing releases for a Marvel film. And if you think about it, this low turnaround can be directly attributed to the film’s presence on Disney+ and the factor of piracy.
Johansson apparently tried to renegotiate the terms of her contract upon learning of the plans for a hybrid release, but was “largely ignored” by Disney.
In response to the suit, the conglomerate had no nice words for the actress and her team, citing the filing to be meritless. “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the multi-billion dollar company said in a statement.
They also said that Johansson had already received $20 million for her work, and that the release of the movie on their streaming site “has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation.”
Despite Disney’s claim over Johansson’s earnings, her attorney, John Berlinski, thinks that the company isn’t as truthful as they want to seem. “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 told Variety.
He added that their case wouldn’t be the last in Hollywood, where talents may soon stand up to Disney and demand their contracts to be honored. In fact, the issue might stand in future years for other actors and companies as modern media takes on the streaming era.