Scarlett Johansson is one of the most prominent stars of the Marvel Movie Universe. The ‘Black Widow’ marked an extraordinary presence on the big screen worldwide along with the ‘Iron Man 2’. She became associated with several movies of the same franchise. So, when she filed a lawsuit against Disney, the world’s biggest movie studio, on 29th July 2021, it came as a shock for the movie world of Hollywood. The complaint was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. She alleged that there has been a breach of contract.
What did the contract say?
The contract stated that the ‘Black Widow’ actress Scarlett Johansson was to receive a particular amount. Based on the performance of the movie on the theatre release date. But Disney decided to release ‘Black Widow’ simultaneously in theatres as well as on the online platform of Disney Plus as well. According to the lawsuit filed by Scarlett Johansson, this decision has been accused to be a deliberate one to exempt the actress from earning her contractually guaranteed earnings. The complaint says (according to The Wall Street Journal), “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.” Sources close to the actress have stated that the simultaneous release incurred a loss of $50 million.
Scarlett’s lawyers have issued a statement that says. “This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts.”
What Disney has to say?
A representative of the movie studio has called Scarlett Johansson’s allegations to lack merit ‘especially sad. And distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic’. However, according to them, they have strongly adhered to the contract. The release of the Black Widow has increased her chance of earning additional compensation other than the amount ($ 20 million) she has received to date for the movie.
Is the present situation to be blamed?
The lawsuit has been filing amidst exceptional turmoil in the movie industry. 2020 was not a favorable year and the entertainment industry was hard by the effects of the pandemic. Movie releases pushing back by an entire year. But somehow or the other the studios needed to draw money from the movies that were already pending releases. Most of the studios decided to go for launching the movies on the OTT platforms. Meanwhile, Disney decided to release some of the big-budget movies like ‘Mulan’ and ‘Cruella’ on Disney Plus for a premium fee. This way the loss was more or less recovered by the movie industry. However, that was the most effective solution at this difficult time.
This is not the first time an actor has stood against the Hollywood movie houses. Well, only time will tell what will be the outcome of this case!