UPDATE: Disney has since released its own statement on the lawsuit, which reads as follows: “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.”
Black Widow finally arrived on screens earlier this month, with Disney opting to release the long-awaited Marvel movie both in cinemas and on Disney+, asking streaming viewers to stump up the additional Premier Access charge. One person is particularly unhappy about that move, alleging that it breaches her contract with the studio: Scarlett Johansson.
The actor filed a lawsuit on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior court against Disney, citing a loss of income when the film was also released online, because 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 says.
“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,” John Berlinski, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP who represents Johansson, told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the case.
According to her lawyers, when Johansson’s team learned of Disney’s intention to put Black Widow onto Disney+, they got in touch to discuss altering her deal, much in the same way that Warner Bros. reached new agreements with talent including Gal Gadot when it announced that its 2021 output would release both theatrically and HBO Max. The response? Apparently, silence from the Mouse House, though the suit contains an email from a Marvel lawyer in March 2019 agreeing that contract alterations would need to be discussed if the release plan was altered.
This is one that will run, and potentially open up lawsuits from other actors. Plus the PR for the home entertainment release of the movie is going to be interesting… Read more about the case at the Journal‘s site.