Disney is taking a stand today in its decision to release Black Widow in both theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access concurrently. Today, in response to a lawsuit from Scarlett Johansson, The Walt Disney Company responded strongly against her lawsuit alleging a breach of contract because of this release. Disney stated that the lawsuit is “callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Johansson’s filing stated that the release on Disney+ cost her millions of dollars in backend pay. These include bonuses that were tied to box office markers that the movie may not make. According to Johansson’s team, this is due to the release on the streaming service by Disney. Disney disagrees and says it is in compliance with the terms of her contract.
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” Disney said in a strongly-worded statement. “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Disney also stated that Johansson has already been paid $20 million for the movie. It also said that “the release of ‘Black Widow’ on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.” Disney did not share if there were any negotiations with Johansson to provide compensation for the Disney+ revenue.
The result of this lawsuit could have lasting impacts in the entertainment industry with how stars are paid for movies that end up on streaming services. Johansson’s representation argues that the release of Black Widow on Disney+ helped Disney’s stock but this didn’t help Scarlett Johansson.
“It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like ‘Black Widow’ directly onto Disney Plus 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,” John Berlinski, an attorney for Johansson, said in a statement to Variety. “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. 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.”
DAPS MAGIC will continue to watch this story and provide updates as they become available. What do you think of Disney clapping back hard on this lawsuit? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.