Scarlett Johansson, the star in Disney's "Black Widow," is suing the media conglomerate over its release of the film to the streaming service Disney+.
On Thursday, Johansson filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Johansson alleged that her contract with Disney's Marvel Entertainment guaranteed an exclusive theatrical debut but was breached when Disney released the film to its streaming service Disney+. According to CNBC, a large part of Johansson's salary was based on a box office release.
Johansson's attorney John Berlinski, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres, said, "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,'' he added. ''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.''
The filing mentions that representatives of Johansson claimed they sought assurance back in 2019 when Disney executives suggested Marvel Cinematic Universe content would be available exclusively on Disney+.
The lawsuit also includes an email response from the Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi, who mentions release for "Black Widow" would run according to a traditional theatrical model, The Wall Street Journal reports. ''We understand that should the plan change," Galluzzi writes, "we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses.''
Following the film's opening release, box office sales fell more sharply than most Marvel movies. Some analysts in Hollywood attributed the decline in theatrical sales to making the film easy to watch at home.
During the film's opening day weekend on July 9, it grossed $80 million at theaters, $78 million overseas, and $60 million from at-home purchases.
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