Scarlett johansson khoa than

Star alleges simultaneous release of the latest Marvel movie in theaters và on Disney+ service was a breach of contract


Scarlett Johansson, in ‘Black Widow,’ is fighting Disney over the financial fallout from releasing the 2021 movie on Disney+ at the same time as in theaters. Photo: Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios-Disney/Associated Press

Black Widow has a new enemy: the Walt Disney Co.

Scarlett Johansson, star of the latest Marvel movie “Black Widow,” filed a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Disney, DIS -2.03% alleging her contract was breached when the truyền thông giant released the film on its Disney+ streaming service at the same time as its theatrical debut.

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Ms. Johansson said in the suit that her agreement with Disney’s Marvel Entertainment guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release, and her salary was based in large part on the box-office performance of the film.

“Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order khổng lồ prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel,” the suit said.

A Disney spokesman said Ms. Johansson’s suit had no merit và is “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.” The company said it “fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability lớn earn additional compensation on đứng đầu of the $20 million she has received to date.”

The suit could be a bellwether for the entertainment industry. Major truyền thông media companies are giving priority lớn their streaming services in pursuit of growth, & are increasingly putting their high-value nội dung on those platforms. Those changes have significant financial implications for actors và producers, who want lớn ensure that growth in streaming doesn’t come at their expense.

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“This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up khổng lồ Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts,” said John Berlinski, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP who represents Ms. Johansson.

The suit also notes that annual bonuses for Disney Chairman Robert Iger và Chief Executive Bob Chapek are tied lớn the performance of Disney+ & cites that as further motivation for putting “Black Widow” on the service. Disney disclosed in its 2021 proxy that Messrs. Iger và Chapek both received bonuses for the success of Disney+. “In short, the message to—and from— Disney’s đứng top management was clear: increase Disney+ subscribers, never mind your contractual promises, & you will be rewarded,” the suit said.

Disney began releasing movies simultaneously on Disney+ và in theaters partly because of the Covid-19 pandemic, when theaters were closed or at limited capacity, & partly khổng lồ boost its nascent service. AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia, which operates the HBO Max streaming service, is following a similar strategy for its entire 2021 slate of Warner Bros. Movies. Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal has since followed suit, with the release of “The quái nhân Baby: Family Business” both in theaters & on its Peacock streaming service.

WarnerMedia chose khổng lồ renegotiate many of its talent contracts that, like Ms. Johansson’s giảm giá with Marvel, were tied to lớn box-office performance. Warner Bros. Paid more than $200 million khổng lồ talent as part of the amended agreements.