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Is Scarlett Johansson's major lawsuit against Disney just the beginning?
Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney on Thursday for releasing the Marvel film Black Widow on streaming and in theaters at the same time, arguing this breached her contract and cost her millions of dollars since her salary was largely based on the film's box office performance. It seems she's hardly alone in her frustration over compensation for movies that debut on streaming, as Variety reports the lawsuit "appears to be emboldening other stars," and "several Disney actors are considering their own legal challenges."
Disney has released a number of movies both in theaters and on Disney+ for $30 during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Cruella starring Emma Stone and this weekend's Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Emily Blunt. In his newsletter What I'm Hearing..., former Hollywood Reporter editor Matthew Belloni reports that Stone is "said to be weighing her options," while Blunt is "likely watching the Jungle Cruise numbers closely this weekend." Blunt, Belloni reports, had already raised objections over Paramount releasing her film A Quiet Place Part II on streaming about 45 days after its theatrical debut, sooner than the pre-pandemic norm of around 90 days.
"The floodgates might be opening," Belloni writes.
Disney issued a scathing response to Johansson's lawsuit Thursday, saying it has "no merit whatsoever" while disclosing the fact that she has already been paid $20 million for Black Widow. On Friday, Johansson's agent shot back, ripping into Disney for its "direct attack on her character."
"A lot of other actors are cheering for Scarlett and rooting her on," a Hollywood talent agent told Variety. "She has a lot of power and that makes this a visible conversation that puts Disney on the spot. By doing all of this in public, she might be able to change the rulebook."