Scarlett Johansson Suing Disney
Scarlett Johansson Suing Disney over Breach of Contract
During the lockdown, we have all downloaded the latest streaming apps and have been enjoying films, that would have traditionally been huge theatrical releases. These have been easily accessible on our TV’s and Tablets whilst cosily sat on our own sofas. As opposed to an uncomfortable cinema chair with overpriced drinks and treats.
What we didn’t realise is that these big corporates have been very clever. By releasing them on streaming services instead of, or as well as in cinemas, there looks to be an intriguing conflict of interests. These contracts, whereby actors have a share of box office takings are potentially detrimental to their earnings. Many actors have voiced their concerns but Scarlett Johansson has truly highlighted the issue by starting legal proceedings against Disney.
Pandemic Era Problems
It was one of the first big releases back in cinemas in the pandemic era. The release of Black Widow on the Disney + platform as well as the quite frankly, limited cinema release. Many still not open and under socially distanced seating arrangements, meaning theatres were not at capacity! Then in countries where lockdown was still imposed at the time of release cinemas were still firmly closed.
Now, Black Widow still managed to make some eye-watering figures at the box office. At the time of reporting it stands around $260 million as Disney allegedly didn’t release figures for the second week. Thus we have estimated figures. However, it wasn’t as popular as initially thought and has struggled against the likes of Space Jam in the box office. It looks to be able to pass the lowest-grossing film of the MCU. The Incredible Hulk so has managed to avoid that label. It hasn’t come anywhere near the largest grossing of the MCU, which was of course Avengers: Endgame. Which, to date, has made around $2billion worldwide.
Johansson vs Disney
However, the trouble for this film hasn’t finished with the latest lawsuit. Scarlett Johansson’s legal team estimates she has lost earnings of approximately $50 million and has only received $20 million so far. Disney according to Deadline, has responded to the lawsuit, the full transcript is below. They do not seem to be dialling down the drama like many companies would and instead apparently dispute the claims.
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
We will follow this closely. It has the potential of knock-on effects for other films and actors looking to claim loss of earnings through this new way of releasing films. Let’s hope it can be settled to the benefit of all and doesn’t prevent release on streaming services. As let’s face it, it has been a blessing during the lockdown.
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