Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney for breach of contract. She claims Disney failed to adhere to their contract when it decided to release Black Widow on Disney+ as a $30 pay-per-view the same day as the movie’s theatrical release.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Scarlett Johansson, star of the latest Marvel movie “Black Widow,” filed a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Disney, alleging her contract was breached when the media giant released the film on its Disney+ streaming service at the same time as its theatrical debut.
Ms. Johansson said in the suit that her agreement with Disney’s Marvel Entertainment guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release, and her salary was based in large part on the box-office performance of the film.
“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 said.
From the looks of the lawsuit, it appears Disney is in the wrong on this. If Johansson’s pay was based on the box-office performance of Black Widow, they did her wrong. When Disney decided they would release Black Widow during the COVID-19 pandemic, they should have renegotiated Scarlett Johansson’s contract.
According to the lawsuit, Johansson’s representatives tried to sit down with Disney to amend the contract to reflect a theatrical release during a pandemic. Disney refused to respond to their attempts.
Scarlett Johansson will not appear in any more Marvel movies. Her character was unnecessarily killed off in Avengers: Endgame. Black Widow takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame. Did Disney executives think they could get away with cheating her out of money because they didn’t need to be on good terms with her anymore?
It sure seems that way.
Disney didn’t need to release Black Widow when it did. The movie could have stayed on the proverbial shelf until life returned to normal. The movie was a self-contained story that didn’t change or affect anything else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Releasing Black Widow on Disney+ as a $30 pay-per-view the same day it was released in theaters destroyed its potential box office. Almost as soon as the first person paid their $30 to Disney, multiple copies of Black Widow were available on all the usual torrent sites.
You cannot have a true theatrical release when many theaters are still closed. The theaters where I live are still closed. I don’t know when or even if they will reopen.