It was released in theaters and on Disney+ with premier access. But now, star of the film, Scarlett Johansson, is suing Disney over the way the movie was released in both theaters and on the streaming service simultaneously, claiming it was a breach of contract.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit today in Los Angeles Superior Court against Disney, saying that, “her agreement with Disney’s Marvel Entertainment guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release, and 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 said.
As we’ve seen, Disney has been releasing new movies on Disney+ (sometimes in addition to theaters) due to the global pandemic and theaters previously being closed. Other streaming services have done the same, like HBO Max, but according to The Wall Street Journal, AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia (who operates HBO Max) renegotiated the contracts of its talent that were tied to box-office performance.
The Journal also says that “according to the complaint, Ms. Johansson’s representatives sought to renegotiate her contract after learning of the dual-release strategy for “Black Widow,” which she has said is her ninth and last Marvel movie. Disney and Marvel were unresponsive.”
The Wall Street Journal says the movie going to Disney+ is projected to cost Scarlett Johansson over $50 million, according to a claim from a person familiar with her contract.
CNN reporter Frank Pallotta later shared a statement reportedly made by Disney in response to this matter. In it, Disney notes that they have complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and that the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation. You can read the statement below.
JUST IN: Here's Disney's statement on the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit. pic.twitter.com/5IRJb4ATdL
— Frank Pallotta (@frankpallotta) July 29, 2021
What other movies are heading to Disney+ or have become available on Disney+ at the same time as their release in theaters? Well, last year Mulan was released on Disney+ through Premier Access. Soul was released on Disney+ without Premier Access (meaning it was available for free for all Disney+ subscribers), and so was Pixar’s Luca. Raya and the Last Dragon was released simultaneously in theaters and Disney+, as was Cruella. And soon Jungle Cruise will also be released simultaneously in theaters and Disney+.
But, some future Disney movies are planned to be released exclusively in theaters. We’ll have to see if those plans change as the situation with the pandemic and with streaming in general develops. Is Disney+ the future of the Disney company? Click here to see our thoughts!