Every day hundreds of legal claims are submitted to the courts of justice. Yesterday, Thursday 29th of July, there was one that was different from the rest in the Los Angeles Superior Court as Black Widow protagonist Scarlett Johansson filed an official lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company. The causes of action: breach of contract by not releasing the Black Widow movie exclusively in theaters.
“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,” says the suit cited by The Wall Street Journal. The new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie has so far grossed $80 million in North America, $78 Million worldwide, and another $60 million through Disney Plus. According to Johansson’s lawyers by releasing the film on Disney’s streaming service they have effectively cut the actress off her backend bonus.
Disney’s representative team was quick to react in the few hours since the publication of the lawsuit and has already made statements in response to the actress. “There is no merit to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard of the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to Disney representatives speaking to The Independent. Disney’s PR also made public the $20+ million the actress has already made in bonuses so far.
“It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney Plus to increase subscribers and thereby boost their company’s stock price – and that it’s hiding behind Covid-19 as a pretext to do so,” said John Berlinski, a lawyer for Johansson, when interviewed by Variety. Furthermore, Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company may have opened a pandora’s box of lawsuits to come. Actors in the future may want to renegotiate their compensation deals with producers and distributors as the streaming service era seems to have just begun.
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat