Scarlett Johansson is taking Disney to court over the recent release of Black Widow on Disney+. Since debuting as Natasha Romanoff in 2010's Iron Man 2, Johansson has served as a prominent fixture in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though it wasn't until 2021 when she was finally given her own solo movie. Originally set to release in theaters in 2020, Black Widow was delayed until this month when it premiered both in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access.
As it turns out, Scarlett Johansson feels that this dual release of Black Widow was in violation of her contract for the movie. The Wall Street Journal reports that Johansson has filed a lawsuit against Disney and Marvel in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing breach of contract. Johansson's salary is contingent on the box office success of Black Widow, which has dropped exponentially since its opening weekend. She is arguing that releasing the movie on Disney+ negatively affected theatrical ticket sales.
"Disney intentionally induced Marvel's breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel," the lawsuit reads in part.
"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," said John Berlinski, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres who represents Johansson, via CNBC. "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."
In the United States, Black Widow has pulled in more than $150 million in its first four weeks at movie theaters. Disney previously reported that Black Widow earned $60 million in sales on Disney+ in its opening weekend, but the numbers it's drawn since then haven't been revealed. As of now, the plan is to release other major Disney movies both in theaters and on Disney+ for the rest of the year, happening next with Jungle Cruise on July 30.
Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, Olga Kurylenko, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz. Cate Shortland directed using a screenplay by Eric Pearson with Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson crafting the story. It is the first chapter of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the big screen. Separately, Disney has also been expanding the MCU with Disney+ exclusive shows like WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and the upcoming shows Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk.
Disney and Marvel have not yet publicly commented on the lawsuit brought forth by Johansson. For now, you can watch Black Widow both in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. This news comes to us from The Wall Street Journal.