Scarlett Johansson, who portrays the superhero lead role in Black Widow, documented a case against Disney on Thursday claiming a contract breach. She declared in her suit that Disney did not honour its responsibility to release the movie only in theatres and simultaneously made it accessible on the streaming platform Disney+.
The suit said that Scarlett’s paycheque was linked to the box office performance of Black Widow and she endured financial losses due to its dual release. “Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, to prevent Ms Johansson from realising the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel,” it said, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sources personal to Scarlett notified WSJ that the simultaneous online release of Black Widow arose in losses of $50 million (around ₹371 crores).
However, a representative for Disney called Scarlett’s allegations of subsisting potentially bilked out of a huge sum of money lacking in merit and “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic”. The representative announced that the firm ‘fully complied’ with her agreement and that the streaming premiere of Black Widow ‘significantly expanded her ability to earn more compensation on top of the $20 million she has earned to date.
Scarlett’s lawsuit arrives at a time when theatres are still striving to survive the pandemic. Most studios are deciding to either delay movies or choosing for a streaming release to recoup some profits.
Black Widow, initially set to release in May 2020, debuted in theatres and on Disney+ in the US and many other countries on July 9.
“It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company’s stock price — and that it’s hiding behind Covid-19 as a pretext to do so,” Scarlett’s lawyer John Berlinski informed CNN Business. “But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we look forward to proving as much in court,” he added.
In the mean time, Black Widow is still to release in India but is already accessible on pirate sites in high-definition. According to reports, it is predicted to arrive on Disney+ Hotstar in October.