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Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over Streaming Release Of “Black Widow”

Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW | Image: Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2021

Scarlett Johansson, star of Marvel’s “Black Widow” superhero film, is suing Disney for breach of contract after it streamed the film at the same time as its cinema release.

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In the lawsuit filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Disney, Johansson, 36, claimed that she had been guaranteed that “Black Widow” would have an exclusive theatrical release, and that the bulk of her salary was based on the box office performance.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the actress alleges that she lost more than $50million as a result of the film being released on streaming service Disney+ at the same time as its debut in theatres.

Johansson is estimated to have made around $15 million in advance for “Black Widow”, but says in the suit that the streaming release cut into her lucrative bonuses.

“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 suit said.

Black Widow took in $60 million on the streaming platform Disney+ on the opening weekend alone, the company previously announced in its first breakdown of steaming figures for a film.

The film, starring Johansson as the cat-suited superspy, was available online to Disney+ subscribers for an extra fee of $29.99 at the same time as its release in traditional theaters.

The film set a pandemic-era record bringing in $218 million worldwide over opening weekend earlier this month, including the streaming figures, plus $80 million domestic box office and $78 million internationally.

However, the film’s box-office performance dropped off sharply after the opening weekend, leading some analysts to question whether the Disney+ streaming release was taking a bite out of ticket sales.

Black Widow saw box office receipts plunge 67 percent after opening weekend, and ticket sales currently stand at $319 million globally, putting the film on track to become one of the lowest-grossing Marvel films of all time.

However, the lawsuit notes that Disney’s stock rose after the company disclosed the impressive streaming sales of Black Widow on Disney+.

Johansson’s lawsuit claims that Disney wanted to steer audiences toward Disney+, “where it could keep the revenues for itself while simultaneously growing the Disney+ subscriber base, a proven way to boost Disney’s stock price.”

“Second, Disney wanted to substantially devalue Ms. Johansson´s agreement and thereby enrich itself,” the lawsuit said.

Johansson is one of the highest paid actresses in the world and has an estimated net worth of about $165 million. Her highest-paid film to date was Ghost in the Shell in 2017, for which she earned a reported $17.5 million salary.

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