Scarlett Johansson is suing the Walt Disney Company over its decision to release Black Widow to their streaming service, Disney+.
It’s been confirmed that the actress is suing Disney for intentional interference with contractual relations and for inducing breach of contract. In the documents that were submitted to the Los Angeles Superior Court, Johansson alleges that the simultaneous release of Black Widow in both theaters and on Disney+ was a breach of contract.
The actress alleges that she agreed her compensation for starring in Black Widow would be largely based on box office receipts generated by the film. She also agreed to a theatrical release exclusive to movie theaters in order to maximize her potential pay. Johansson claims Disney violated the contract by releasing Black Widow on Disney+ on July 9, 2021, which was the the same day it was released in theaters.
Walt Disney Company responded to the lawsuit in an official statement. “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said. “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.”
The situation got even stickier when Johansson’s attorney also released a statement. “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,” the statement continued. “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.”