Scarlett Johansson has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company after the release of Black Widow, per a story from The Wall Street Journal. The suit, filed by the actress on Thursday in L.A. Superior Court, alleges that Disney entered breach of contract by releasing the recent MCU movie both in theaters and on the Disney+ streaming service on July 9.
According to the report, Johansson‘s suit said that her contract with Disney guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release for Black Widow, with her salary conditional on the film’s box office performance. A line in the suit says that “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.”
After a promising start at the box office with a weekend premiere gross of $80 million domestically and $78 million overseas, the biggest weekend for any theatrical release in more than a year, Black Widow went on to suffer the MCU‘s worst decline by the second weekend of its release, dropping 67% in its second weekend at the box office and pulling in a mere $26.3 million. The film was also released on Disney+ via its Disney Premier Access service, through which subscribers would pay a one-time $29.99 fee to view the movie on the streamer, and early reports announced that Black Widow had earned $60 million in revenue from the first weekend in Disney+ Premier Access release alone, but there were no further updates following that initial boom.
Per the complaint filed by Johansson and her team, there had been pre-pandemic concerns that Black Widow would be made available on Disney+, and representatives for the actress reached out to Marvel and Disney for confirmation. In a March 2019 email included as part of the lawsuit, Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi said that the release plan for Black Widow would adhere to a traditional theatrical model, adding, “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.” The suit also alleges that when Johansson‘s representatives attempted to renegotiate her contract after Black Widow‘s release plan changed to include Disney+, Disney and Marvel never responded to those efforts.
As of this reporting, Disney has not released an official response. Meanwhile, Black Widow will be released on all major digital platforms on August 10, with a 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD release following on September 14.