Disney has an issue with one of the Avengers. Scarlett Johansson, star of Marvel’s Black Widow, is reportedly suing the company over the release of the recent blockbuster film, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Update:

  • The Walt Disney Company has responded to Johansson’s lawsuit, according to Deadline.
  • Deadline shared the following statement from a Disney spokesperson:
    • “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.”

Original:

  • Johansson is reportedly suing The Walt Disney Company over the decision to release Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ simultaneously, saying the decision was a breach of contract.
  • According to the film’s star, her contract with Disney guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release and her payment was based in large part on the box-office earnings of the film.
  • The suit alleges:
    • “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.”
  • Releasing the film on Disney+ with Premier Access in addition to its theatrical release is projected to have cost Johansson more than $50 million, according to a person familiar with details of her contract.
  • According to the suit, Johansson and her representatives tried to renegotiate her contract as soon as Disney announced the dual release plan but Disney and Marvel were unresponsive.
  • In an email from March 2019 included in the suit, Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi said “We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses.”
  • During its opening weekend, Black Widow earned $80 million in the domestic box office and another $78 million oversees.
  • It also earned $60 million from sales on Disney+ with Premier Access.

What they’re saying:

  • John Berlinski, attorney: “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.”