Scarlett Johansson sues Disney for releasing Black Window simultaneously on Disney+

By Stephen Ippolito | July 29th, 2021

Well, this is an interesting/awkward story. According to the Wall Street Journal, actress Scarlett Johansson has filed a lawsuit against Disney for releasing Black Widow on Disney+.

In the lawsuit that was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court today, Johansson alleges that the company breached her contract when they released the film on Disney+ and in theaters at the same time. Johansson also says that by doing this, she is projected to lose out on more than $50M.

As some know, these days, most actors/actresses have box-office revenue sharing in their contracts. However, since the pandemic began, studios have moved some of their films to their streaming services. Since there was no language in their contracts on what happens if the studio decides to do this, actors or actresses lose out on a bigger pay days.

While Black Widow has so far earned more than $300M worldwide, many believe that the film would have brought in even more had it not also been released on Disney+. During its first weekend of release, Disney announced that it brought in more then $60M from purchases on the streaming service. Because it wasn’t in her contract, it’s assumed that Johansson doesn’t get any percentage of that.

Some studios have avoided lawsuits like this by approaching talent before release and offering them more money in exchange. It was reported that WarnerMedia did this with actress Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins when they decided to also release Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max. It doesn’t appear though that Disney did this with Johansson.

I’m sure going forward, this will become less of an issue as both the studio and talent will add language in their contracts to protect them. However, it will be interesting to see how this particular plays out.

Update at 5:21PM:

Disney has responded to Johansson’s lawsuit.

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