‘Black Widow’ Star Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over Film’s Streaming Release

Actress alleges breach of contract in lawsuit filed Thursday

black widow Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson in "Black Widow" (Marvel Studios)

Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the company’s decision to release “Black Widow” on Disney+ at the same time as the film’s theatrical release.

The actress is alleging breach of contract in the lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court and reviewed by TheWrap.

“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 suit said.

“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,” a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said.

John Berlinski, Johansson’s attorney, said in a statement to TheWrap: “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. 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.”

“Black Widow” has grossed $157 million to date at the box office. Disney reported a global total of $60 million in paid streaming sales on opening weekend.

Johansson is seeking both punitive and monetary damages, and a trial by jury.

A spokesperson for Disney has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.


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