For her appearance in Disney and Marvel’s Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson was promised a salary proportional to the film’s performance at the theatrical box office. The problem is, with the release of Black Widow in both theaters and on Disney+’s Premier Access streaming subscription, not everyone who saw the movie contributed to its box office numbers, which means Johansson is potentially missing out on millions of dollars that Disney supposedly doesn’t have to pay her. Spurred by this snafu, Johansson is making a move that only the few and the brave have ever attempted: she’s gonna sue the Mouse.
“Disney knew that the cannibalization of [box office receipts] by Disney+ would save Marvel (and by extension, Disney) ‘very large’ amounts of money that it would otherwise owe Ms. Johansson,” the lawsuit states. “On information and belief, 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.”
“As Ms. Johansson, Disney, Marvel, and most everyone else in Hollywood knows, a ‘theatrical release’ is a release that is exclusive to movie theatres,” the suit states. “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.”
— Variety (@Variety) July 29, 2021
Shortly after Johansson filed her lawsuit, Disney fired back, saying it had “no merit whatsoever.”
“The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” a Disney spokesperson said. “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.”