Scarlett Johansson is Suing Disney for Black Widow Breach of Contract
As we’ve been seeing in recent months, the decision to split releases between theaters and streaming services isn’t going over well with actors and directors who rely on getting some of the backend of the movie gross and bonuses based on benchmarks. Scarlett Johansson is the latest to launch a lawsuit over the decision to release Black Widow on Disney+‘s premium service.
The lawsuit alleges that Johansson’s contract was breached when the film didn’t debut exclusively in theaters. The claim says the decision depressed ticket sales. If certain benchmarks were hit for the box office performance bonuses would kick in.
For an extra $30, Disney+ subscribers were able to watch the film at home.
Black Widow set a record in the pandemic era with an $80 million debut in North America and earned $78 million at the foreign box office. Disney released that it also had over $60 million in sales on Disney+, a rare release of those numbers by the company.
In the second week of release, the film dropped which led theater owners to blame Disney+ and piracy for the decline. The film received mixed reviews for a Marvel film and on the lower end of critic reviews for the franchise universe.
The lawsuit also notes that Disney’s stock rose after it released the streaming numbers. Johansson’s lawsuit claims the dual release resulted in $50 million in lost bonuses.
There was worry in the Johansson camp even before COVID-19 that Disney would release the film on Disney+. Her management as the studio to guarantee that Black Widow would premiere exclusively in cinemas. Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi promised a traditional theatrical bow and that if that plan changed there’d be a discussion and deal to come to an understanding.
Warner Bros. faced similar charges when it decided to release its films through HBO Max for the year. That resulted in numerous actors earning their full back-end on movies released this way.
This lawsuit has massive implications as it’s clear that Warner Bros., Disney, and more are looking at streaming only and dual releases for films.