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UPDATED: Disney Responds to Scarlett Johansson Lawsuit Over Black Widow Release

July 29, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Black Widow Natasha Yelena

UPDATED: Disney didn’t hold back when commenting on Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit over the release of Black Widow on Disney+. Deadline reports that the company released a statement forcefully denying the allegations and saying that they’ve actually “enhanced” Johansson’s ability to profit from the film.

The statement reads:

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”

ORIGINAL: Black Widow’s next big battle is in the court room, as Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the film’s release on Disney+. Variety reports that the actress’ lawyers filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday alleging that Disney breached their contract with her when it decided to put the MCU film on Disney+ via Premier Access alongside its theatrical release instead of going exclusively theatrical.

The lawsuit alleges that the digital release depressed the ticket sales and that much of Johansson’s compensation was tied to the film’s box office performance. If the film hit certain levels of performance, then bonuses were set to kick in. The suite notes 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.”

The film released at the start of July with a day-and-date theatrical and Premier Access release. Watching the film on Disney+ cost $29.99. The film has grossed $159.4 million domestically and $319.5 million worldwide thus far and saw a heavy drop-off in its second weekend. Disney announced that the first weekend drew $60 million in Premier Access revenuw and the lawsuit notes that Disney’s stock rose after it disclosed the rental revenue.

“Disney chose to placate Wall Street investors and pad its bottom line, rather than allow its subsidiary Marvel to comply with the agreement,” the suit argues. “To no one’s surprise, Disney’s breach of the Agreement successfully pulled millions of fans away from the theatres and toward its Disney+ streaming service.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, sources close to Johansson estimate that there were $50 million in lost bonuses due to the decision to release the film on Disney+.

Disney has not commented on the lawsuit.