Scarlett Johansson has had a fruitful partnership with Disney through the latter’s subsidiary Marvel Studios. She played Black Widow six times before reprising the role, presumably for the last time, her selfsame titled standalone movie directed by Cate Shortland.
However, not long after movie released in North America and many other most markets on July 9, the Wall Street Journal reported that she has sued the House of Mouse for the film’s hybrid (releasing on theatrical and streaming simultaneously) release.
Here is a timeline of everything has happened in this entire shebang so far:
Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney for claiming that the movie’s simultaneous release in theatres and on Disney+ breached the terms of her contract with the studio, robbing her of bonuses up to $50 million. Most films before the pandemic heading for theatres released on streaming survives after a certain period of time. After the pandemic hit and caused disruption in the theatrical business, the big studios like Warner Bros and Disney changed tack.
The lawsuit said, “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.”
Disney’s response was shockingly quick and aggressive. On the same day, it released a statement saying Johansson’s lawsuit has “no merit whatsoever. It continued, “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The statement also revealed Scarlett’s base salary for the movie: $20 million.
Scarlett Johansson’s agent, Bryan Lourd of Creative Arts Agency (CAA), slammed Disney’s response. He accused Disney in a statement of attacking the actress’s character and of revealing her $20 million salary for the superhero movie “in an attempt to weaponise her success as an artist and a businesswoman.”
On the same day reports came out claiming that Kevin Feige, the boss of Marvel Studios is “angry and embarrassed” by the whole thing, though there was no official statement.
Executive chairman and former CEO of Disney Bob Iger was reported by TheWrap to be “mortified” by the recent developments.
Scarlett, through her lawyer, pulled up Disney for its “misogynistic attack”. The statement also said that now studio is trying to “hide its misconduct in a confidential arbitration.”
“Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public?” asked John Berlinski. “Because it knows that Marvel’s promises to give Black Widow a typical theatrical release ‘like its other films’ had everything to do with guaranteeing that Disney wouldn’t cannibalize box office receipts in order to boost Disney+ subscriptions. Yet that is exactly what happened – and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence that proves it,” the statement added.
In India, Black Widow will release on September 3.