Like her MCU character Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson also apparently does not hold back in a fight. She has hit back hard in her response against Disney, the parent company of Marvel. The actor and the studio are currently engaged in a fierce legal battle over the hybrid release — both theatrical and streaming — of her standalone Marvel movie Black Widow, which allegedly robbed Scarlett of bonuses of about $50 million.
Disney released Black Widow on Premiere Access, Disney+’s PVOD service, following the success of the model with Mulan, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Cruella.
Johansson’s lawyer John Berlinski said, as per Deadline, “After initially responding to this litigation with a misogynistic attack against Scarlett Johansson, Disney is now, predictably, trying to hide its misconduct in a confidential arbitration.”
He claimed that “Marvel’s promises to give Black Widow a typical theatrical release ‘like its other films’ had everything to do with guaranteeing that Disney wouldn’t cannibalize box office receipts in order to boost Disney+ subscriptions”. Johansson’s lawyers claimed that they have ‘overwhelming evidence’ that this was what exactly happened.
The publication reports that the House of Mouse wants the dispute to be resolved behind closed doors.
Disney, however, has dismissed the claims. A filing made on August 20 says that the hybrid release was discussed with the actor and she was not blindsided as she claimed. “Marvel discussed the hybrid-release-pattern decision with Johansson in spring 2021, as the parties were conferring regarding the Picture’s release date. Marvel has assured Johansson that she will be credited with 100% of the Premier Access and PEHV receipts for purposes of the box-office thresholds used to calculate any additional compensation – even though Marvel has no obligation under the Agreement to do so,” it said.
It also goes on to say that the the film earned more than $125 million in streaming and download retail receipts on Disney+. Subscribers could gain “premium access” to Black Widow on release day for an extra $30. “As of August 15, 2021, the Picture has grossed more than $367 million in worldwide box-office receipts,” it added.
On July 30, The Wall Street Journal reported the news of Scarlett’s lawsuit against Disney, which owns Marvel Studios. The lawsuit accused the media giant for breaching the terms of her contract by the simultaneous release.
Johansson said that her agreement with Disney-owned Marvel Entertainment involved a guarantee that the film will exclusively be released in theatres and her salary was based on the box-office performance of the movie.
The suit 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.”
Disney’s response was immediate and aggressive. A statement quoted by Variety read, “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.”