Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney, claiming that her contract was breached when the company released “Black Widow” on its streaming service Disney Plus at the same time it debuted in theaters. She claims her agreement with Marvel Entertainment guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release for her solo film, and her salary was based, in large part, on the box office performance. The Wall Street Journal first reported this news story which is still developing.
Scarlett Johansson sues Disney: What does the suit say?
“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,” the suit said.
“It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like ‘Black Widow’ directly to the new streaming service Disney+, in order to increase its subscriber count and thereby boost the value of their company,” John Berlinski, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres that represents Johansson told CNBC.
“But there are violations of their rights, and we look forward to proving this in court,” he said via email. “This will not be the only time when Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that they have a legal obligation to honor their contracts,” said Johansson’s attorney John Berlinski, at Kasowitz Benson Torres.
In the US, Black Widow set a record with its $80 million domestic box office debut. However, it quickly slumped at the box office and theater owners around the country are starting to get angry.
Disney had to make a business decision last decade when the pandemic called Covid-19 decimated movie theater companies. Walt Disney Entertainment decided to keep major releases like “Black Widow” of the theatrical market in order to advise panic from spreading.
However, as restrictions on the coronavirus eased, vaccination rates went up and the industry began to bounce back. Disney opted for a new strategy of debuting blockbusters in theaters and through its streaming service Disney+ at $30 apiece simultaneously.
Disney says that the plan is to release one last movie Jungle Cruise on Friday the 30th of July and then exclusively release every other movie thereafter in theaters.