Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over Disney+ Release of ‘Black Widow’

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Scarlett Johansson has filed a lawsuit against Disney,
alleging a breach of contract. The ‘Black Widow’ star claims that her contract guaranteed
that the Marvel movie would be released exclusively in theaters, but Disney opted
to premiere the film on Disney+ at the same time as the theatrical release.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the lawsuit in which Johansson says that her salary was impacted by the move, as her pay was dependent on how the film performed at the box office. The film brought in $158 million at the box office globally, and $60 million from Disney+ Premier Access.

“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,” Johansson’s lawsuit
says, according to WSJ.

The change to the release plan of the film was mentioned during Disney’s Q1 earnings call when CEO Bob Chapek said that the company was “remaining flexible” with its plans. The following month, the official announcement was made. At that time, Kareem Daniel, Chairman, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution said that the choice was made to reflect Disney’s “focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences.”

Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP’s John Berlinski, Johansson’s attorney released a statement sayig: “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. 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. 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.”

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