In a surprising turn of events, Scarlett Johansson, who played the role of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in the MCU for over a decade, has now reportedly dragged the House of Mouse to the courts for the studio’s decision to stream Black Widow on its streaming site Disney+. Having made her debut as the femme fatale Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2 (2010), Johansson soon became a global superstar, partly due to her popularity as Black Widow. After the character’s supreme sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame to save the universe, a prequel movie was set in order to pay homage to the character, and also Scarlett Johansson, who made her final appearance as Black Widow in the titular movie. But unfortunately, after a long time of association with Disney and Marvel Studios, the actor’s relationship with them has soured over the distribution of profits raked in by Black Widow.
According to reports, Scarlett Johansson’s salary for Black Widow was proportionate to the movie’s earning. Despite the pandemic and limited theatrical release across the world, Black Widow did considerably well with an earning of over $218 million in its opening weekend. However, part of the revenue was generated by Disney+, which has claimed that nearly $60 million came from its streaming. For Disney+ Premier Access, the streaming site charges $29.99 which has apparently been a huge hit among fans due to the ongoing pandemic. But then, the revenue earned by Disney+ will not be a part of Johansson’s salary which, according to the actor and her lawyers, is a breach of contract.
In the statement from Johansson’s suit (via WSJ), it is alleged 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.”
John Berlinski, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP who represents Ms. Johansson, stated that “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 honor its contracts.”
This is not the first case where a major stalwart from the industry has shown contempt towards the rise of streaming platforms as they cut into the profits of theatrical releases. Last year, director Christopher Nolan also engaged in a war of words with Netflix for releasing movies on its streaming platform on the same date as of theatrical release. Similarly, Warner Bros. also opted to release Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max for which Gal Gadot has apparently taken a $10 million payout. As major studio houses are inevitably siding with streaming platforms, theatrical releases might soon become a thing of the past.
Black Widow is currently streaming exclusively on Disney+.