Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over streaming Black Widow alleging she lost more than $50M

Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney, claiming the movie’s simultaneous release as a streamer breached her contract. 

Johansson, 36, alleges that she lost out of more than $50million as a result of the film being released on streaming service Disney+ at the same time as its debut in theaters, according to The Wall Street Journal

The actress filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Disney, claiming she had been guaranteed that Black Widow would have an exclusive theatrical release, and that the bulk of her salary was based on the box office performance. 

Johansson is estimated to have made around $15 million in advance for Black Widow, the same as her reported fee for for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, but says in the suit that the streaming release cut into her lucrative bonuses. 

‘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. 

Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney, claiming the movie's simultaneous release as a streamer breached her contract

Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney, claiming the movie's simultaneous release as a streamer breached her contract

Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney, claiming the movie’s simultaneous release as a streamer breached her contract 

Johansson, 36, alleges that she lost out of more than $50million as a result of the film being released on streaming service Disney+ at the same time as its debut in theaters

Johansson, 36, alleges that she lost out of more than $50million as a result of the film being released on streaming service Disney+ at the same time as its debut in theaters

Johansson, 36, alleges that she lost out of more than $50million as a result of the film being released on streaming service Disney+ at the same time as its debut in theaters

Johansson is one of the highest paid actresses in the world and has an estimated net worth of about $165 million. Her highest-paid film to date was Ghost in the Shell in 2017, for which she earned a reported $17.5 million salary.

Black Widow took in $60 million on the streaming platform Disney+ on the opening weekend alone, the company previously announced in its first breakdown of steaming figures for a movie. 

The movie, starring Johansson as the cat-suited superspy, was available online to Disney+ subscribers for an extra fee of $29.99 at the same time as its release in traditional theaters.

The movie set a pandemic-era record bringing in $218 million worldwide over opening weekend earlier this month, including the streaming figures, plus $80 million domestic box office and $78 million internationally. 

However, the movie’s box-office performance dropped off sharply after the opening weekend, leading some analysts to question whether the Disney+ streaming release was taking a bite out of ticket sales. 

Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson as the cat-suited superspy, was available online to Disney+ subscribers for an extra fee of $29.99.

Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson as the cat-suited superspy, was available online to Disney+ subscribers for an extra fee of $29.99.

Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson as the cat-suited superspy, was available online to Disney+ subscribers for an extra fee of $29.99.

The lawsuit notes that Disney¿s stock jumped on July 12 when the company disclosed the impressive streaming sales of Black Widow on Disney+

The lawsuit notes that Disney¿s stock jumped on July 12 when the company disclosed the impressive streaming sales of Black Widow on Disney+

The lawsuit notes that Disney’s stock jumped on July 12 when the company disclosed the impressive streaming sales of Black Widow on Disney+

Black Widow saw box office receipts plunge 67 percent after opening weekend, and ticket sales currently stand at $319 million globally, putting the film on track to become one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies of all time. 

However, the lawsuit notes that Disney’s stock rose after the company disclosed the impressive streaming sales of Black Widow on Disney+. 

Johansson’s lawsuit claims that Disney wanted to steer audiences toward Disney+, ‘where it could keep the revenues for itself while simultaneously growing the Disney+ subscriber base, a proven way to boost Disney’s stock price.’

‘Second, Disney wanted to substantially devalue Ms. Johansson´s agreement and thereby enrich itself,’ the lawsuit said.

According to the complaint, Johansson’s agents tried to renegotiate her contract after learning of the dual-release strategy for Black Widow, but Disney and Marvel were unresponsive. 

The suit states that Johansson feared a streaming release as early as 2019, and that Marvel execs assured her that the film would be put out in a traditional theatrical model.

‘We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses,’ Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi told Johansson’s agents in a May 2019 email included in the lawsuit. 

Black Widow took in $60 million on the streaming platform Disney+ on the opening weekend alone (file photo)

Black Widow took in $60 million on the streaming platform Disney+ on the opening weekend alone (file photo)

Black Widow took in $60 million on the streaming platform Disney+ on the opening weekend alone (file photo)

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com on Thursday afternoon. 

The suit comes at a pivotal moment for the film industry, as more major studios experiment with releasing movies simultaneously online and in theaters.

In response to the pandemic, Warner Bros. decided to release its full slate of movies this year on HBO Max on the same day that they hit theaters.

Parent company AT&T, which owns both Warner Bros. and HBO, appears pleased with the formula and plans to extend it. 

Last week, WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar revealed that in 2022 Warner Bros. will be producing 10 films that will debut on HBO Max the same day they’re released.

Disney also moved toward simultaneous streaming release of movies due to the pandemic. 

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