Walt Disney Co. said it has taken in $125 million in online revenue from “Black Widow” and said the picture, which prompted a lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, has outperformed other Marvel films.
New numbers were revealed in court filings Friday in which Disney asked for Johansson’s suit to be sent to arbitration in New York rather than conducted in a civil trial in Los Angeles, as the actress is seeking.
Johansson sued Disney last month saying she had been cheated out of money due because the company released the film simultaneously in theaters and online. Johansson said her compensation was heavily dependent on bonuses based on theater ticket sales and that the online release ate into that revenue.
Disney countered, saying the actress had already been paid $20 million for her work in the film. In one of the Friday filings, the company said it offered to include online revenue in the calculations for her bonuses, although it is not obligated to do so.
“Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public?,” Johansson’s attorney John Berlinski said in an e-mailed statement Saturday. “Because it knows that Marvel’s promises to give Black Widow a typical theatrical release ‘like its other films’ had everything to do with guaranteeing that Disney wouldn’t cannibalize box office receipts in order to boost Disney+ subscriptions. Yet that is exactly what happened -- and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence that proves it.”
The case has been closely watched in Hollywood as movie studios are increasingly releasing films online earlier, and such films are often likely to appear on streaming services owned by the same parent companies as the studios. That puts them potentially at odds with actors and other talent that sometimes get paid based on the revenue generated from the films.
“Black Widow,” which featured Johansson reprising her role as Natasha Romanoff, a Russian assassin turned superhero, was released on July 9. It has generated $367 million in theaters worldwide. Disney offered fans the ability to watch the film at home through its Disney+ streaming service for an additional $30 fee.
Domestic opening weekend revenue, with theaters and online combined, was better for “Black Widow” than other Marvel films including “Thor: The Dark World” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the company said in one of the filings.
Digital revenue opening weekend was $67 million worldwide, with $55 million of that coming from domestic customers.
© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.