Natasha romanoff in black widow

Scarlett Johansson Is Suing Disney for Cutting Into Her Pay in Putting Black Widow on Streaming Immediately

This is a good thing, actually.
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Scarlett Johansson is taking a stand against Disney and has filed a lawsuit against the parent company of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for allegedly breaching Johansson’s contract in regards to Black Widow. The film, which had a same-day release on Disney+ with a premiere purchase as in cinemas, was to be theatrical-only.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the problem is that some of Johansson’s salary was, in large part, contingent upon how the film performed at the box office around the world, and Disney putting the film on Disney+ at the same time took a chunk out of what Johansson would have received.

What’s worse is that Johansson was reportedly afraid that Disney would try to put Black Widow on Disney+ even before the pandemic:

Even before the pandemic, Ms. Johansson was concerned that “Black Widow” could end up on Disney+ as part of its wide release. In 2019, Ms. Johansson’s representatives reached out to Marvel seeking assurance that “Black Widow” would have a theatrical-only release, according to the complaint.

An email from Dave Galluzzi, Marvel’s Chief Counsel, is included in Johansson’s suit and even states that if the release plan should change from a traditional theatrical model, they’d have to discuss it with Johansson’s team. “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.” This was in March of 2019.

Sure, a sudden pandemic not something anyone could have planned for, but the suit points out that Johansson’s team tried to talk to Marvel and Disney about the dual-release strategy. “According to the complaint, Ms. Johansson’s representatives sought to renegotiate her contract after learning of the dual-release strategy for ‘Black Widow,’ which she has said is her ninth and last Marvel movie. Disney and Marvel were unresponsive, the suit said.”

Attempts were allegedly made to renegotiate, but Disney didn’t take that opportunity, and so this suit filed by Johansson is, in my opinion, justified but also an important step in creatives taking a stand against the companies producing these movies.

This isn’t a new problem.

It’s different from a streaming movie that has been established as such from the start. In Scarlett Johansson’s case, she alleges that it is a breach of her contract. But it’s still an important case to talk about because there are so many others who are not at Johansson’s level who are hurt by the release on streaming. It’s a Hollywood issue and one that they have to sort out.

Yes, it’s easier for audiences to watch movies on streaming, and no, the “but cinema” cries from people like Christopher Nolan are not the same thing. But making it a fair and legal transition for all parties involved is what’s important, and hopefully, this Johansson v. Disney case will start to set a precedent.

(image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.