Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the dual release of the movie in theaters and on the Disney Plus streaming platform, citing a breach of contract. Disney, meanwhile, has issued a strong response, saying there's no merit to the lawsuit.
This is per the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab), which says Johansson filed the lawsuit on Thursday, July 29, in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Johansson's suit says she was guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release for Black Widow, with her salary being based on how the film performed.
The outlet quotes the following from the lawsuit. "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."
Disney released Black Widow in theaters, alongside a premium Disney Plus Premier Access release for $29.99/£19.99. According to Reuters (opens in new tab), Johansson is seeking unspecified damages.
What has Disney said?
"There is no merit whatsoever to this filing," says a statement from Disney, cited by People (opens in new tab). "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."
Johansson's lawsuit alleges that Disney was unresponsive when it came to renegotiating her contract after the dual-release strategy was chosen. WSJ cites a source familiar with Johansson's contract who alleges the Disney Plus release cost the actress more than $50 million.
Disney also said the lawsuit is "especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic".
Black Widow has so far grossed $319 million at the worldwide box office, which is still recovering from the pandemic. In its opening weekend, Disney said the movie generated more than $60 million in Premier Access purchases – it'll become available to all subscribers on October 6.