Scarlett Johansson Says Disney+ Cost Her $50 Million
Scarlett Johansson has filed a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Disney, claiming the decision to simultaneously release the new Marvel movie Black Window in cinemas and on the Disney+ streaming service will cost her $50 million in potential box office receipts.
Johansson’s contract with Disney is tied to box office performance, meaning the more the film earns in the cinema, the more she makes. She claims that the exclusive theatrical release of the film was guaranteed, and a big portion of her salary.
“Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realising the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel,” the suit said.
“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 honour its contracts,” said attorney John Berlinski, who represents Johansson.
A Disney spokesman said the suit was “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Disney claims it “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 $20 million she has received to date.”
Interestingly, the suit notes that Disney Chairman Robert Iger and Chief Executive Bob Chapek’s annual bonuses are based on how well Disney+ does, colouring the decision to place premier content on the streaming service.
“In short, the message to—and from— Disney’s top management was clear: increase Disney+ subscribers, never mind your contractual promises, and you will be rewarded,” the suit said.