Scarlett Johansson, the star of the recently-released Black Widow film, which was launched on the Disney+ streaming platform, is suing Disney.
Disney had announced the film, which cost $200m to produce, would be screened in cinemas while also being available to rent on Disney+ for $30.
Disney claimed that it made $60m via rentals in its opening weekend and globally it has made $319m, which makes it one of the lowest-performing Marvel films to date.
Why is Disney being sued?
The suit filed by Johansson said: “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 actress claimed that her salary was based on the box office performance of the film, which opened strong with $80m in the US, but suffered the steepest second-week decline of any entry within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, dropping 67%.
Johansson’s lawyers claimed they reached out to Disney in 2019 with concerns about the film being given a multi-platform release. They later tried to renegotiate her contract after the release strategy was changed.
“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,” said John Berlinski, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP who represents Johansson.
Disney responded by saying: “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.”