Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over ‘Black Widow’ Streaming Release

Black Widow has a new enemy : the Walt Disney Co. Scarlett Johansson, star topology of the latest marvel movie “ Black Widow, ” filed a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Disney, DIS 2.54 % alleging her contract was breached when the media giant released the film on its Disney+ stream service at the lapp fourth dimension as its theatrical debut. Ms. Johansson said in the befit that her agreement with Disney ’ s Marvel Entertainment guaranteed an single theatrical release, and her wage was based in big character on the box-office performance of the film .
“ Disney intentionally induced Marvel ’ s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full profit of her bargain with Marvel, ” the suit said.

A Disney spokesman said Ms. Johansson ’ s become had no deserve and is “ specially sad and distressing in its callous dismiss for the hideous and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. ” The ship’s company said it “ in full complied with Ms. Johansson ’ randomness compress and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has importantly enhanced her ability to earn extra recompense on top of the $ 20 million she has received to date. ”

The suit could be a bellwether for the entertainment industry. major media companies are giving priority to their pour services in avocation of growth, and are increasingly putting their high-value content on those platforms. Those changes have significant fiscal implications for actors and producers, who want to ensure that growth in streaming doesn ’ t come at their expense .
“ This will surely not be the last encase where Hollywood endowment stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal duty to honor its contracts, ” said John Berlinski, an lawyer at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP who represents Ms. Johansson .
The become besides notes that annual bonuses for Disney Chairman Robert Iger and Chief Executive Bob Chapek are tied to the operation of Disney+ and cites that as further motivation for putting “ Black Widow ” on the overhaul. Disney disclosed in its 2021 proxy that Messrs. Iger and Chapek both received bonuses for the success of Disney+. “ In short, the message to—and from— Disney ’ s top management was clear : increase Disney+ subscribers, never mind your contractual promises, and you will be rewarded, ” the suit said .
Disney began releasing movies simultaneously on Disney+ and in theaters partially because of the Covid-19 pandemic, when theaters were closed or at restrict capacity, and partially to boost its nascent service. AT & T Inc. ’ s WarnerMedia, which operates the HBO Max streaming serve, is following a alike strategy for its stallion 2021 slate of Warner Bros. movies. Comcast Corp. ’ south NBCUniversal has since followed suit, with the acquittance of “ The Boss Baby : family Business ” both in theaters and on its Peacock pour service .
WarnerMedia chose to renegotiate many of its talent contracts that, like Ms. Johansson ’ s deal with Marvel, were tied to box-office performance. Warner Bros. paid more than $ 200 million to talent as function of the better agreements .

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Ms. Johansson has been an integral part of the Marvel universe since appearing as Black Widow in 2010 ’ s “ Iron Man 2. ” Her bearing has grown significantly since then as a member of the Avengers squad of heroes, aboard Captain America and the incredible Hulk. Her character died in the 2019 blockbuster “ Avengers : endgame, ” and the spinoff movie in theaters immediately takes set before the events of that movie .
According to the complaint, Ms. Johansson ’ south representatives sought to renegotiate her contract after learn of the dual-release strategy for “ Black Widow, ” which she has said is her ninth and survive Marvel movie. Disney and Marvel were unresponsive, the befit said .
The decision to put the movie on Disney+ is projected to cost Ms. Johansson more than $ 50 million, a person conversant with details of her contract claimed .
even before the pandemic, Ms. Johansson was concerned that “ Black Widow ” could end up on Disney+ as part of its wide free. In 2019, Ms. Johansson ’ second representatives reached out to Marvel seeking assurance that “ Black Widow ” would have a theatrical-only passing, according to the complaint. In a March 2019 e-mail included in the suit, Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi said the release would be according to a traditional theatrical performance model, adding, “ We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understand as the deal is based on a series of ( identical large ) box position bonuses. ”


Should Disney renegotiate contracts with stars like Scarlett Johansson when their movies will be released on Disney+ at the same meter as in theaters ? Let us know in the comments section below .
During its July 9 opening weekend, “ Black Widow ” grossed $ 80 million at the domestic corner position and $ 78 million oversea, and generated another $ 60 million from $ 30 at-home purchases on Disney+. It was the beginning time Disney broke out a movie ’ second streaming performance in such contingent. Disney shares ticked upward on the news that Monday .
The movie ’ s theatrical operation fell in the subsequent days more sharply than most Marvel films. Some analysts and executives in Hollywood questioned whether making the movie easy to watch at home was hurting box-office results. The National Association of Theatre Owners, a lobby group for exhibitors, called the performance “ disappointing and anomalous, ” and validation that exclusive theatrical releases were the most profitable access .
Internally, some executives at Disney worried that an at-home handout would tarnish the overall appeal of the Marvel mark, which has produced the biggest offerings in Hollywood over the past several years .
Disney ’ s Marvel Studios has had unprecedented success in contemporary Hollywood, releasing 24 titles that regularly collect more than $ 1 billion in ball-shaped ticket sales .
The movies in turn activate a cycle of tax income from toy dog sales to theme-park attractions. As the franchise has grown, it has become a magnet for big stars, who sign up to portray the heroes and villains of Marvel movies and shows .

The launch of Disney+ has brought a bit of magic to a company whose stock had taken a nosedive after the coronavirus shut down theme parks and movie theaters. WSJ explains how Disney’s streaming platform has become a top competitor in an already crowded field. Photo illustration: Jacob Reynolds/WSJ

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