Disney’s decision to simultaneously drop Black Widow in theaters and on streaming was a controversial one, but it’s now come back to bite them in an unexpected way as Black Widow herself Scarlett Johansson is suing the studio for the move.
The Oscar-nominated actress and Marvel mainstay filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Co. in Los Angeles Superior Court this Thursday, claiming that her contract was breached by the company when they released Black Widow on Disney Plus at the same time as it came out in cinemas. Johansson revealed in her suit that her agreement with the Disney-owned Marvel Entertainment guaranteed that the movie would get an exclusive theatrical release. The reason why this was stipulated in her contract was because the star’s salary for the production was based in “large part” on the film’s box office performance. Wall Street Journal, who broke the story, reached out to Disney for comment but did not receive a response.
“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.
In other words, Johansson stood to pocket a hefty chunk of what could have been an enormous box office gross. At least partially thanks to Disney sharing the movie on streaming, however, Black Widow earned just a fraction of what it would’ve done otherwise – it’s currently sitting at $318.1 million worldwide, which is underwhelming for a Marvel flick. WSJ confirms that the actress’ contract did not contain any mention of including streaming revenue in her salary – as that wouldn’t have been a concern when it was drawn up – so Johansson won’t benefit from its success on Disney Plus Premiere Access.
This is a shocking turn of events, as star turns against studio, so we’ll just have to wait to see how this Scarlett Johansson vs. Disney lawsuit transpires.