By Abb Jones
The Reelness

In a possible precedent setting move, Scarlett Johansson has filed a lawsuit against Disney for releasing Black Widow on its Disney+ streaming service at the same time as its theatrical release.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges the movie studio breached its contract with the film’s star when the studio opted not to debut the film exclusively in theaters, a move her attorneys say depressed movie ticket sales. Much of Johansson’s compensation was tied to the box office performance of the Marvel Avengers spinoff, with bonuses set to kick in for reaching certain milestones in ticket sales. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story about the lawsuit, reports that Disney’s decision to release the film on Disney+ has resulted in $50 million in lost bonuses.

Florence Pugh and Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow.

Black Widow set a pandemic-era box office record, bringing in an opening weekend of $80 million in North America, $78 million overseas and another $60 million on Disney+. Ticket sales have dropped sharply in the following weeks, making the critically-praised Black Widow, with $319 million in ticket sales, one of Marvel’s lowest-grossing films of all time.

If successful, Johansson’s lawsuit could embolden more actors to seek additional compensation for films that migrated to streaming services during the pandemic and result in much tighter contracts for actors going forward.



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