Scarlett Johansson and Disney reach deal over lawsuit on streaming ‘Black Widow’

On Thursday, Scarlett Johansson and Walt Disney Co. said that they had decided to amicably settle a lawsuit that she had filed against the entertainment giant. This was the first battle between a major star and a movie studio on streaming rights, which are the new norm in the pandemic and post pandemic era.

Several weeks ago, in July, Johansson had filed a suit in the Los Angeles Superior Court. She had alleged that Marvel had breached her movie contract by simultaneously streaming ‘Black Widow’ on Disney+. This, in turn, led to a potential loss of earnings for the star as her earnings depended on its performance at the box office.

Although the terms of the deal was not made public, both the parties said that they would work together, in a joint statement released by them on new projects including Disney’s Tower of Terror.

Many movies in the recent past have seen simultaneous releases in cinema theaters as well as on streaming platforms. There has been public and private discord between different parties involved in these operations as a result of the two way releases. Stars, financiers and others have complained about loss of revenues due to early or simultaneous streaming.

The lawsuit between Scarlett Johansson and Marvel-Disney was the most public spat as well as an important one for future negotiations as the Black Widow franchise was huge in theatrical releases in the past. It did do well, taking in consideration that theaters have had to make a lot of adjustments in the pandemic.

However, no film released in theaters has matched up to past performances within the same franchise. Streaming a movie that is potential blockbuster material, in a short period of time or simultaneously after it has a theatrical release will definitely decrease the number of moviegoers.

Many in the industry have spoken of a need to renegotiate deals in these changing times, so that the potential for discord as well loss of theatrical revenues can be dealt with, without resorting to law suits and it looks like the settlement of the suit between Disney and Johansson is the first step forward, despite initial acrimony.

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