Why Scarlett Johansson Is Suing Disney

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“Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson has filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) that alleges the release of the new Marvel action film in a simultaneous streaming premiere with its theatrical run is a breach of her contract.

What Happened: The Wall Street Journal reported that the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, said Johannson’s agreement with the studio guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release, adding that her salary was predicated on the film’s box office performance.

The film earned $80 million in its July 9 weekend theatrical release and Disney claimed it made an additional $60 million through a $30 fee charged to Disney+ subscribers who preferred to view the film at home.

Disney’s decision to release “Black Widow” both in theaters and on Disney+ earned a rare rebuke from the National Association of Theater Owners, which complained “Black Widow” experienced a “surprising 41% second day drop, a weaker than expected opening weekend, and a stunning second weekend collapse in theatrical revenues” despite positive reviews and a strong level of audience anticipation for this Marvel action/adventure film.

Related Link: Disney Mandates Indoor Face Masks At US Theme Parks

What Else Happened: Johansson’s lawsuit stated her representatives attempted to renegotiate her contract after discovering the theater-streaming release pattern, but the company was unresponsive. Johansson has played the Black Widow role in nine films since 2010 and the new film was scheduled to be her last as the character.

“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.

Disney responded to the lawsuit by saying Johansson's litigation was without merit and displayed "callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic."

DIS Price Action: Disney's stock trades around $179.31, off its 52-week high of $203.02

Photo: Marvel Entertainment / Disney.

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