‘Black Widow’ star Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over streaming strategy

Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the company’s decision to release the film in theaters and on Disney + at the same time. Johansson claims the move was a breach of contract, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In the lawsuit, Johansson says that Black Widow should appear exclusively in theaters under their deal with Marvel. As is often the case with movie stars, a large portion of Johansson’s salary was tied to his box office success.

To see Black Widow on Disney +, viewers must pay over $ 30 for a Premier Access Pass. Disney originally estimated the film had generated $ 60 million in sales on Disney + since its opening weekend earlier this month, along with $ 80 million in domestic and $ 78 million international box office receipts.

The move may have had an impact on Black Widow’s performance in theaters (although it should be noted that many cinemas around the world are still closed amid the pandemic). The global box office total is currently $ 319 million. As Variety points out, it is well on the way to becoming one of the top grossing Marvel films to date. Only one of the six other Marvel films released since early 2018 has grossed less than $ 1 billion in theaters.

Johansson’s agents tried to renegotiate their deal after news emerged of Black Widow’s new release strategy, the lawsuit said, but Disney and Marvel reportedly failed to respond. Simultaneously releasing Black Widow on Disney + could cost Johansson over $ 50 million, according to a WSJ source.

In 2019, before COVID-19 changed everything and with Disney + on the horizon, Johansson and her team contacted Marvel to confirm that Black Widow would still be a theatrical-only release. According to a March 2019 email quoted in the file, Marvel’s chief attorney Dave Galluzzi confirmed this. “We understand that if the plan changes, we need to discuss this with you and come to an agreement, as the deal is based on a series of (very large) cashier bonuses,” the email read.

Cinemas around the world have been forced to close their doors following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Distributors made efforts to revise their release strategies. Warner Bros. has adopted a hybrid format this year, where its films hit theaters on the same day and HBO Max (aka releases on the day and date). It will return to the theatrical first releases next year.

However, this approach has been criticized by prominent directors, including Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros. owner WarnerMedia reworked some deals, allegedly paying creative talent who are entitled to more than $ 200 million in box office revenue cuts. NBCUniversal also released The Boss Baby: Family Business in theaters and on Peacock on the same day.

Disney used different tactics. Several of the films that released daily (including Mulan, Raya and the Last Dragon and Cruella) were originally included behind this $ 30 pass to Disney +. Artemis Fowl and the Pixar films Soul and Luca have completely skipped theaters in many countries and went straight to Disney + as part of the regular library.

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