Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the simultaneous streaming and theatrical release of Marvel’s “Black Widow.”
The suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Johansson's contract was breached when Disney released the film in theaters and on Disney+ on July 9, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The “Black Widow” star says that her agreement guaranteed an exclusive release in theaters, with her salary being based on the movie’s box-office performance.
John Berlinski, who is representing Johansson, told the Journal, “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.”
In an emailed statement, a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said "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," the spokesperson said.
Disney began releasing films both on Disney+ and in theaters last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Black Widow” was available to Disney+ users via premier access, where they could purchase the film for an additional $29.99 fee.
According to the suit, Johansson sought to renegotiate her contract after learning of the release strategy, but Disney was reportedly unresponsive, the Journal reports.
Johansson was even concerned before the pandemic that the movie would end up on Disney+ as part of a release, and reached out to Marvel to seek assurance that it would only be released in theaters, the newspaper reported.
“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 complaint reads.
During its opening weekend, “Black Widow” grossed $80 million in the U.S., $78 million in international box office and $60 million on Disney+ via premier access.
Disney said earlier this month that the movie was the only film to surpass $100 million in domestic consumer spending on opening weekend since the pandemic began. It was also the highest domestic opening weekend for a Marvel Cinematic Universe origin story after "Black Panther" and "Captain Marvel."