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30th Jul 2021

Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over Black Widow release

George McKay

Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney for making the latest MCU film Black Widow available on Disney+ the same day as the film’s release in cinemas.

In a complaint submitted to LA County Superior Court on Thursday, lawyers for Johansson are seeking unspecified monetary and punitive damages, saying Johansson was promised an exclusive release in cinemas and that the simultaneous release of Black Widow’s first solo film violated that agreement.

Johansson’s lawyer John Berlinski said:

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.

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.

Johansson’s contract with Disney for Black Widow stipulated that her payment was based largely on the box office performance of the film, so to maximise the potential earnings of the film, Johansson made Disney agree to release the film in cinemas only.

However, Disney released the film on Disney+ in full knowledge of this requirement, according to the suit.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Disney dismissed the claims, saying “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,” they said.

The spokesperson claimed that Disney “has fully complied” with Johannson’s contract, adding that the release of the movie on Disney+ “has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received.”