Black Widow: Disney slam “callous disregard” of Scarlett Johansson lawsuit

Black Widow: Disney slam “callous disregard” of Scarlett Johansson lawsuit
Johansson has alleged that the film’s simultaneous release on Disney+ violated her contract

Disney have responded to Scarlett Johansson after the actor filed a lawsuit against them over the streaming release ofBlack Widow.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the actor filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that the online release violated her contract.

Black Widow was released in the US both in cinemas and on Disney+ on 9 July.

The filing, which was reviewed by The Independent, alleges that Johansson’s compensation for the movie was “largely based” on Black Widow’s box office performance.

“To maximise these receipts, and thereby protect her financial interests, Ms Johansson extracted a promise from Marvel that the release of the Picture would be a ‘theatrical release’. As Ms Johansson, Disney, Marvel, and most everyone else in Hollywood knows, a ‘theatrical release’ is a release that is exclusive to movie theatres,” the lawsuit states in part.

“Disney was well aware of this promise, but nonetheless directed Marvel to violate its pledge and instead release the Picture on the Disney+ streaming service the very same day it was released in movie theatres”, the lawsuit added.

The Walt Disney Company have now responded, telling the The Independent: “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Disney has fully complied with Ms Johansson’s contract and furthermore, 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.”

Black Widow Lawsuit

Johansson’s lawsuit alleges that “Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the Agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms Johansson from realising the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.”

“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,” John Berlinski, an attorney representing Johansson, told The Independent in a statement.

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“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 honour its contracts.”

Earlier this month (20 July 2021), The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) criticised Disney for its release strategy, saying its decision to stream had been detrimental to box office revenues.

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