Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over a Black Widow contract breach after the movie was released day and date on Disney Plus. This is despite Johansson’s contract reportedly assuring her that the movie would be released exclusively in theaters.
This news comes by way of The Wall Street Journal, which reports a large part of Johansson’s salary was based on the movie’s box office performance in theaters. Because the movie was released to Disney Plus sources familiar with the lawsuit say the move to streaming cost Johansson more than $50 million.
“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.
Johansson’s complaint states that her representatives attempted to renegotiate her contract for Black Widow after learning that the movie would be released as a Premiere Access movie on Disney Plus the same day it hits theaters. The suit claims that Disney and Marvel were “unresponsive” to these discussions, according to WSJ.
Even before the pandemic Johansson was reportedly already worried the movie would be released as a Premiere Access title, and the actor sought assurances that the movie would have a traditional theatrical release.
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According to an email within the lawsuit, Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi reportedly told Johansson’s representative that there would need to be discussions if plans changed “as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses,” for Johansson.
Elsewhere in movie making, WarnerMedia renegotiated many of its contracts with actors for this very reason. It was previously reported that Warner Bros. paid more than $200 million to talent whose original contracts were based on box office performance but were changed to reflect day-and-date streaming deals.
Black Widow set a pandemic record with its $80 million domestic box office debut. It also made $60 million on Disney Plus. However, the movie quickly slumped at the box office, something that angered theater owners around the country.
Check out our thoughts on the movie in IGN’s Black Widow review and then read about how the movie set a COVID-19 pandemic record. Watch this video about how theater owners are furious with Disney after Black Widow’s box office slump after that.
Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance news writer and guide maker for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @LeBlancWes.