Disney is blasting Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit over the box office of “Black Widow,” saying that the lawsuit has “no merit whatsoever” and that she already received $20 million in compensation.
The actress is alleging breach of contract in the lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court and reviewed by TheWrap, in which she’s suing Disney over the company’s decision to release “Black Widow” on Disney+ at the same time as the film’s theatrical release.
“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 earlier Thursday: “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 also reported a global total of $60 million in paid streaming sales on its opening weekend.
Coming up on Disney’s slate is “Jungle Cruise” opening Friday, which is also being released in theaters and through Disney+ as a Premier Access title. Other films that have followed this model included “Mulan,” “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Cruella.”
Johansson is seeking both punitive and monetary damages, as well as a trial by jury.