On Thursday, Scarlett Johansson issued a lawsuit against Disney for a breach of contract when they decided to release the film in cinemas and on Disney + simultaneously.
The lawsuit claims that her contract was breached as it promised an exclusive theatrical release which on top of that, affected her salary as it was largely based on the film’s box office performance.
The main argument of the suit is that this day-and-date release model which Disney purposefully implemented meant that they intentionally sacrificed potential box office revenue in exchange for new subscribers to Disney +.
“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 reads.
Johansson’s attorney, John Berlinski, told Vanity Fair,
“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.” He continues, “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.”
A Disney spokesperson said in a statement, “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is 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 $20M she has received to date.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, sources close to Johansson say that the film’s likely led to her losing about $50 million USD in bonuses.