Scarlett Johansson Is Suing Disney for Breach of Contract Over Streaming of Black Widow
Disney Said That Dual Release of Films Could Have a Positive Impact Over the Compensation of Actors
The Hollywood movie star Scarlett Johansson is suing the Walt Disney Company for breach of contract after they started online streaming of Black Widow, her recent superhero movie, on the same date as it was released in theaters. The film has set a new record at the box office amid the coronavirus pandemic of grossing over $218 million in its initial week.
Although later on, there was a sharp decline in the receipts of the box office, and it has been argued by Scarlett Johansson that she has been deprived of a large sum of potential earning from Disney due to the online streaming of Black Widow on Disney+.
To counter this statement, Disney stated that they had complied fully with all of the contracts which had been previously made regarding her earnings, and her case does not have any merit whatsoever.
According to Scarlet Johansson, Marvel Studios, which is under the ownership of Disney, has promised that her film would be a theatrical release and there would not be any streaming of Black Widow in the initial few weeks of its release on any online streaming platform.
By this, she had understood that a certain time frame would pass before Disney would likely allow the streaming of Black Widow on their online platform Disney+, which is generally comprised of about ninety days’ time period.
During the COVID-19 pandemic since last year, various Hollywood studios had opted to completely bypass the theatrical releases of films, as many of them were already closed down and had their movies released on paid online platforms only.
Currently, as a major number of theaters have reopened due to the reduction in the threat posed by the COVID-19 infection and administration of viable vaccines in the general population globally, Disney, along with Warner Bros, continued to maintain their strategy of the dual release of their major films in the future similar to the online streaming of Black Widow on Disney+, although the online streaming platform still requires the user to gain premier access for the content with additional charges.
On the first weekend after the release of Black Widow in cinemas internationally, the film sold around $80 million in sales of the ticket across North America, while internationally, it was able to gain $78 million. About $60 million has been gained through the Premier Access rentals on Disney+ for the online streaming of Black Widow so the viewers can enjoy it from the comfort of their own homes without any threat of getting the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus infection.
According to the sources close to the Hollywood actor, the salary of Scarlett Johansson was based on the performance of Black Widow in the box office and has projected that she has lost the potential amount of $50 million due to the online streaming of Black Widow.
To counter the claims, Disney said that their strategy of the dual release of the film had a significant impact on the ability of Scarlett Johansson to earn additional compensation along with the $20 million she had already received as part of her paycheck for the film.
In a very intensely worded testimonial by Disney, they said that the legal actions taken by the superhero film star on the online streaming of Black Widow had been especially distressing and sad during the current times of the horrific prolonged effects of the coronavirus pandemic globally.
Bait and Switch
Before the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic, all the fans of Hollywood films typically had to watch the newly released films in theaters or had to wait for at least three whole months before it was allowed to be streamed on the platform and downloaded.
Major film studios have been recently mixing releases for cinemas with online streaming in various ways, as seen with the streaming of Black Widow, as the cinemas are battling to win back their massive number of views that have become wary of catching the highly contagious viral infection while being for long duration in small and confined space.
Although this move has not proven to be popular with some of the leading talents in the film industry, among them were this year’s release Tenet and the director of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan.
In the previous year, a British director had criticized Warner Bros over their plans for the release of some of the major films on the online streaming service HBO Max and described the entire situation as a bait and switch.
According to him, Warner Bros had the ability to getting the work of a filmmaker out to everyone, both in cinemas and at home, and they are trying to dismantle it. The decision made by Warner Bros production does not make any economic sense, and even some of the most casual investors of Wall Street are able to distinguish the stark difference between dysfunction and disruption.