Black Widow Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over Streaming Release

Scarlett Johansson spent almost a decade as the Black Widow in Marvel Cinematic Universe. This culminated in her long-awaited solo film that was finally released earlier in March after several covid-19-induced delays. The actor now plans to sue Walt Disney Company for breach of contract regarding the movie's debut on Disney+.AdvertisementAccording to the Wall Street Journal, Johanssons lawsuit was filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court. It alleges that Disney refused a portion of her contract with Marvel Studios in order to accommodate Black Widow's theatrical restrictions caused by covid-19. The streamers Disney+ Premiere Access program and theaters both premiered simultaneously on July 9. The suit claims that this violated an agreement she made with Marvel that Black Widow would make her theatrical debut.Johanssons contract to direct the film had Johansson's salary tied into its box office performance. This is a common arrangement for major blockbuster talent beyond the usual pay. Black Widow's simultaneous streaming debut led to a significant drop in its domestic theatrical box-office debut of $80 million to $26.3 million. This also resulted in theater owners associations blaming Disney. According to WSJ, Johansson will lose approximately $50 million due to the move. Disney, however, claimed that Black Widow earned around $60 million in its initial streams from the $30 buy-in for Disney+'s Premiere Access titles. These titles previously included Raya and Cruella and Mulan.Johansson's concerns about Disneys conduct are compounded by the fact that she claims that Disney refused to re-negotiate the terms of her contract after Black Widow was finally moved to simultaneous theatrical and streaming release. This decision was made after months of delays in March. Other studios that moved to streaming to address the pandemic changed their talent deals to accommodate the changesWarner Bros. shockedly moved their entire 2021 slate to simultaneous or full debuts on HBO MaxJohanssons suit claims she was not able to get Disney and Marvel to modify her agreements.The suit also notes that Johanssons representatives were concerned about the film going to Disney+ back in 2019. It also cites an email from Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi that states that Marvel understands that if the plan changes, they would need to talk with [Johansson] to come to an agreement, as the deal is based upon a series (very large) bonus box office gross.John Berlinski, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP representing Johansson, said to WSJ that this will not be the first case in which Hollywood talent has fought back against Disney. He also stated, "This will certainly not be the last case where Hollywood talents stand up to Disney and makes clear that no matter what the company may claim, it has a legal responsibility to honor its contracts."Follow us on Instagram @io9dotcom for more information