Scarlett Johansson Has Hit Disney With A Breach Of Contract Lawsuit For Releasing “Black Widow” On Its Streaming Service (UPDATE)

July 29, 2021 / Posted by:

It’s a good thing Scarlett Johansson has so many years worth of training in expert-level punches, fights, roundhouse kicks, and scissor-leg takedowns because she’s about to do battle against the toughest, nastiest threat to her career this side of that questionably styled wig they made her wear in Iron Man 2. Scarlett’s movie Black Widow, the long-awaited stand-alone origin story of the Marvel character she’s been portraying since 2010 in nine films, is currently out in theaters and also on Disney+ Premium Access. And by the sounds of things, she’s done waiting for Disney to fork over all the money she expected to make from Black Widow, and she’s gotten her lawyers involved.

According to a lawsuit filed today by Scarlett’s people, her Black Widow paycheck is shit, and it’s all Disney’s fault. Disney reportedly spent $200 million to make Black Widow, and it has reportedly made $318 million worldwide at the box office. Its opening weekend set a new pandemic record with in-theater ticket sales and Disney+ streams. That second part is the reason why Scarlett speed-dialed her lawyers. via Variety:

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, attorneys for Johansson allege that the star’s contract was breached when the studio opted not to debut the film exclusively in theaters, a move they claim depressed ticket sales for the Avengers spinoff. Much of Johansson’s compensation was tied to the box office performance of Black Widow.

“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.

By throwing Black Widow on Disney+, it cut into Scarlett’s chances of once again finding her name at the top of Forbes’ Highest Paid Actresses List. She could potentially still make that goal, but with a much smaller margin.

Black Widow was originally scheduled to hit theaters in November 2020, but because of the pandemic, it was pushed to May 2021. In March of this year, it was announced that Black Widow would be dropping on Disney+ on the same day as its theatrical release. It received another release push and ended up being released in theaters and through streaming on Disney+, on July 9th. Theater ticket sales have declined steeply since the film was released nearly three weeks ago, and if it continues to go that way, Black Widow could be one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies in history.

But, the lawsuit notes that Disney’s stock rose after the company disclosed the streaming figures. That’s something that didn’t sit well with the film’s star.

“Disney chose to placate Wall Street investors and pad its bottom line, rather than allow its subsidiary Marvel to comply with the agreement,” the suit reads. “To know one’s surprise Disney breach of the agreement successfully pulled millions of fans away from the theatres and toward its Disney + streaming service.”

WSJ says that according to Scarlett’s lawsuit, Disney’s decision to throw the film on Disney+ right away might have cost her $50 million in lost bonuses. For example, Scarlett’s contract stipulated that certain bonuses would be paid out, should the film hit certain box office milestones. But, Black Widow never got to hit those milestones, because people were watching her kick ass with Florence Pugh from the comfort of their own couches.

And it’s not like Scarlett was blindsided by the Disney+ news. The lawsuit states that Scarlett’s people spoke to Disney and said that if they planned a non-traditional release, that they’d have to bring it up to Scarlett. The lawsuit even claims they have emails between Team ScarJo and Disney talking about a guarantee of Black Widow only being released in theaters on opening day. She also accuses Disney of not doing anything to fix her contract before the film was released. via Variety:

“In the months leading up to this lawsuit, Ms. Johansson gave Disney and Marvel every opportunity to right their wrong and make good on Marvel’s promise.”

Suing Disney might have been the last resort for Scarlett. And if you don’t call out Disney in the most public way, you’re at risk of them slipping two $10 vouchers for hot dogs at Award Wieners in California Adventure and asking, “Is this enough to shut you up?“. Speaking of shutting up, Scarlett Johansson probably just messaged Stephen Dorff and let him know that it’s really nice he agreed to stop talking crap about Black Widow, but maybe he could do her a favor and channel that energy into dragging the Disney corporation instead.

UPDATE: Disney has slammed ScarJo in their response, saying that she doesn’t care about the COVID-19 pandemic and has already made tons of money and could make even more. via Variety:

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” Disney said in an unusually fiery statement. “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The company went on to state that the star has already received $20 million for her work and argued that “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.” Disney did not provide any information about whether or not Johansson’s pact was renegotiated so that she could share in streaming rental revenue.

Pic: Marvel

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