Scarlett Johansson, the lead star of the latest MCU movie Black Widow, has sued Disney, which owns Marvel Studios, for breaching her contract by simultaneously releasing the movie in theatres as well as Disney+ in the US and a few other countries. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
As per the WSJ report, the lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday. Johansson said that her agreement with Disney-owned Marvel Entertainment involved a guarantee that the film will exclusively be released in theatres and her salary was based on the box-office performance of the movie.
The suit 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.”
Black Widow, which is yet to be released in India, brings back Johansson’s Russian spy turned Avenger as she faces demons from her past: particularly the Red Room run by a former Russian general that trains and literally brainwashes little girls to become ruthless assassins.
Disney has responded to the lawsuit. A statement quoted by Variety read, “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 released Black Widow on Premiere Access, its PVOD service, following the success of Mulan, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Cruella. This was after Warner Bros announced in late 2020 that its every 2021 movie will have the same day hybrid release.
On Premier Access, Disney+ subscribers in the US, UK and a handful of other countries could pay 30 dollars or equivalent to watch the movie in the comfort of their home.
Black Widow was the first time Disney felt comfortable releasing streaming numbers. Apparently, the media giant earned 60 million dollars from Black Widow’s Disney+ Premier Access release alone in the opening weekend. This was in addition to 158 million dollar box office, by far the best for a pandemic release. Premier Access may have worked big time for the House of Mouse, but Johansson clearly feels it was unfair to her.
In India, Black Widow is set to release on Disney Plus Hotstar. There is no release date yet.