Disney says there's "no merit whatsoever to this filing."

Advertisement
Scarlett Johansson
Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic, Getty Images

Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on July 29th alleging that Disney breached her Black Widow contract by releasing the new Marvel film on its Disney+ streaming service.

The Disney Marvel Studios film was released in both theaters and on Disney+ July 9th and has brought in more than $300 million worldwide as of July 30th. Johansson claims that she was made to believe the film would only be released in theaters and that her salary would largely be based on box office earnings.

"To maximize these receipts, and thereby protect her financial interests, Ms. Johansson extracted a promise from Marvel that the release of the picture would be a 'theatrical release,'" the suit reads, per CNN. "As Ms. Johansson, Disney, Marvel, and most everyone else in Hollywood knows, a 'theatrical release' is a release that is exclusive to movie theatres. Disney was well aware of this promise, but nonetheless directed Marvel to violate its pledge and instead release the picture on the Disney+ streaming service the very same day it was released in movie theatres."

As Forbes reports, by releasing the film both in theaters and through streaming, Disney could have undercut Johansson's potential earnings by upwards of $50 million.

Disney responded to the lawsuit shortly after its filing, saying, "there is no merit whatsoever to this filing" and that Johansson's suit is "especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," per CNN.

"Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson's contract and furthermore," Disney continued, "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."

"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," Johansson's attorney, John Berlinski, told CNN. "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."

We'll follow the lawsuit as it unfolds.