Walt Disney has replied to the lawsuit filed by Scarlett Johnson, who starred in their recent movie Black Widow. Johnson said that the company had breached its contract by streaming the movie on its Disney+ channel while the media called the suit “sad and distressing” as the pandemic was still on throughout the world.
Johnson’s lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday said that the movie house’s decision to send the Marvel movie to its streaming channel costed her millions as she lost backend compensation. These bonuses would have been disbursed as benchmarks were set at the box office. These benchmarks will not be met as the movie is simultaneously streaming on Disney Plus.
Disney said that there was no merit in the lawsuit and called it callous and distressing as it disregarded the prolonged effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The company said that they were in compliance with the terms of Johnson’s Black Widow, which is a spinoff film of the Avengers franchise.
Disney said that Johnson had already received $20 million for starring in the movie and that its release on Disney+ with Premier Access will give her an additional stream of revenue. However, the company did not disclose whether the star’s deal was renegotiated so that she could share the streaming revenue.
Black Widow had a fantastic pandemic-era box office opening of $80 million in North America and $78 million overseas and $60 million on Disney Plus. Its current earnings are $319 million as ticket sales tapered off after the initial boom. Most Marvel movies reached a billion dollars in the past and Black Widow is set to become of the lowest grossing releases of Disney.
Johnson’s attorney John Berlinski told Variety that the short-sighted strategy of Disney would not work, and it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts. Perhaps this suit will bring about a change in how stars will be compensated in future if their movies do not debut exclusively in movie theaters but are also simultaneously streamed on platforms.
As the possibility of the pandemic stretching to years continues, Scarlett Johnson’s lawsuit may pave a way for future stars as they look at contracts and deals that equitably cover debuts in theaters and streaming platforms.
Image Credit Disney