New York Post
SCARLET IS AGAINST THE $TREAM
‘Widow’ star sues Disney over release
She’s not a merry widow. Scarlett Johansson sued Disney on Thursday over its release of “Black Widow,” claiming she’s out $50 million because the Mouse House made the superhero flick available on its Disney+ streaming service at the same time it hit theaters.
Johansson’s lawsuit claims her contract with Disney’s Marvel Entertainment guaranteed that the hotly anticipated movie would premiere exclusively in theaters and that her salary would be based largely on its performance at the box office, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Citing anonymous sources, the Journal said the decision to put “Black Widow” on Disney+ was likely to cost Johansson more than $50 million.
“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,” said the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
In a statement issued Thursday, Disney said the suit had “no merit” and called it “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 company added.
The legal case may signal larger issues in Hollywood as more studios release movies
on streaming services at around the time they premiere in cinemas.
“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,” Johansson’s lawyer, John Berlinski of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, told the Journal
The suit says that Johansson’s lawyers sought to renegotiate her contract after learning of Disney’s dual-release strategy for “Black Widow,” the ninth Marvel movie in which she plays the superhero assassin, but that Disney and Marvel have been unresponsive to her requests.
“Black Widow” grossed just over $80 million at the domestic box office in its July 9 opening weekend and $78 million overseas, according to Box Office Mojo. At the time, Disney said the flick garnered another $60 million from $30 purchases on Disney+.
Box-office sales for “Black Widow” have since slowed, with the film reeling in just under $158 million domestically and about $160 million overseas.