Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 has kicked off in full force. Before this month it was only the Dicney+ shows that were headlining the next phase of the MCU but now the movies have also joined in. On 9th July 2021, Marvel released Black Widow both in theatres and on Disney+ Premier Access. The decision came after repeated delays in the release date of the movie amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Black Widow was originally set for a 2020 release date but it finally came out a year and a half after that. It received a positive review but it has angered the lead actress. According to recent reports, Scarlett Johansson sues Disney because the release of Black Widow on Disney+ Premier Access turned out to be a contract breach.
Scarlett Johansson sues Disney
The Star filed a suit on July 29, 2021, claiming $50 Million salary losses due to the Dinsey+ release. Her contract with Marvel iterated that her salary would depend on the Box office performance of the movie. She received a $20 million salary upfront, but the rest was supposed to come from her back-end deal. But since Disney asked Marvel to release the movie on Disney+ Premier Access, they breached a contract.
The film did do well on its opening weekend. It also raked in a huge income from the $30 subscription numbers. But the income dropped in its second weekend. The lack of a theatre-only release has led her to lose money on her back-end deal because Black Widow has become the most pirated pandemic release film. Johansson’s lawsuit alleges an induced and intentional breach of contract to reduce her salary.
John Berlinkski, an attorney at Kasokitz Benson Torres LLP (who is representing Johansson) said:
“This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts…”
The Black Widow is pretty upset about the loss of money and even more angry about the betrayal from her own studio. She seems adamant to fight them head-on. The suit is filed against Walt Disney Co. in Los Angles Superior Court. ScarJo is expecting compensation from the multimedia giant but it seems Disney has other ideas.
Disney Strikes Back
Scarlett Johansson sued Dinsey over Black Widow’s release on July 29, 2021, and later that day Disney also made a statement through their lawyers. Disney responded to the lawsuit by making its own claims. Brooks Barnes of The New York Times reported that Disney is claiming that they followed ScarJo’s contract to a T. They say that her salary was not negatively affected because of the Disney+ release but she actually made more money.
The statement read as follows:
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially 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.”
It seems that the company is adamant to keep its stance as firm as possible. They don’t really want to anger their fans but at the same time want to appear as Stoic as possible. The lawsuit entails the start of a prolonged legal battle that may end in a settlement as things stand. legal battles like these are always more about the optics than the legal jargon. At the end of the day, only the courts can decide whether Scarlett Johansson has lost money or gained it. But it will be important what kind of perception is put out.
Clash of the Titans
Both parties are represented by hordes of high-class advocates who are considered the best in their field. Soon the Superior Court will have to come to a decision but the legal team o ScarJo and Disney will not make it easy. They will fight tooth and nail to secure their client’s position. At this point, the parties may decide that a settlement is much more economical than a prolonged legal battle. Our heart goes out to Black Widow and her claims. But we cannot ignore the claims made by Disney either. It is very hard to say who is telling the truth and who is defending their actions. We just hope that this lawsuit does not negatively affect Black Widow’s appearance in any future Marvel movies.
It may also be the case that with Black Widow Scarlett Johansson has taken her to leave from the MCU. If that is the scenario then her legal battle will make much more sense. In that scenario, Disney executives can no longer control the flow of her career and they will have to fight her fair and square without the exercise of undue influence. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below and keep watching this space for everything marvel.