Disney gave a statement to New York Times reporter Brooks Barnes, saying it gives “no merit whatsoever” to Johansson’s lawsuit against The Walt Disney Co., which alleged the company breached her contract when it released Black Widow on its Disney Plus streaming service at the same time as its theatrical release. Disney also said the lawsuit “sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date,” Disney also told the New York Times.
Johansson claims Marvel Studios, a Disney entity, guaranteed the film would release exclusively in theaters, a move that would almost assuredly increase her pay, which was tied to the box-office performance of the Marvel Cinematic Universe 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 lawsuit says.
Black Widow‘s box-office numbers likely did take a sizable hit due to its release on Disney Plus’ Premier Access, which allowed fans to stay home and stream the movie for an additional $30. The film opened in more than 4,000 theaters earlier in the month, grossing over $80 million. The worldwide box-office figure is estimated at about $320 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, which would be one of the lowest figures in MCU history.
As Johansson’s character had died earlier in the MCU, many fans theorized Black Widow would be the final MCU film in which Johansson starred, but with this lawsuit, it would appear to be near certain that is the case.