Marvel’s “Black Widow” was due to be released last year, but the film’s release was delayed multiple times due to the pandemic, which was why Disney decided to release the film earlier this month, in cinemas and on Disney+ Premier Access.
$319 million globally, putting “Black Widow” on track to become one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies of all time.
The movie went on to pull in over $319 million globally, which means it’s set to become one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies of all time. While it did great numbers on its first weekend, including $60 million from Disney+ Premier Access, the box office numbers drastically reduced, which was blamed on the Disney+ Premier Access release, as this increased the amount of piracy for the film due to a high-quality digital version being easily available. It should also be noted that most films have suffered from a drop off in box office numbers after the opening weekend during the pandemic.
Today, a lawsuit has been filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, by the attorneys for Scarlet Johansson alleging that the star’s contract was breached when the studio opted not to debut the film exclusively in theatres, a move they claim depressed ticket sales for the Avengers spinoff.
This is because Scarlet Johansson’s financial compensation for the film was tied to the box office performance of “Black Widow”, where if the film hit certain milestones, bonuses would kick in, and with the film failing to hit some of those milestones, it looks like Johansson is out of pocket by around $50 million.
The lawsuit states:
“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 lawsuit also states that Disney was able to increase its stock price due to the push toward a digital release, stating:
“Disney chose to placate Wall Street investors and pad its bottom line, rather than allow its subsidiary Marvel to comply with the agreement. To know one’s surprise Disney breach of the agreement successfully pulled millions of fans away from the theatres and toward its Disney + streaming service.”
Hollywood is slowly adjusting its contracts to a digital age. Netflix already has removed those forms of compensation from its contracts. Warner Brothers also suffered a similar problem last year when it announced its 2021 theatrical slate would shift to HBO Max. To deal with the situation, actors such as Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and Keanu Reeves were paid their full back-end on their movies.
Should the lawsuit be successful, other actors could also speak up to receive additional compensation. It should also be noted that future contracts will have stricter language in contracts regarding compensation if an exclusive theatrical release is compromised or bypassed.
This could be big news for the future of Disney+ Premier Access titles, either with Disney agreeing with actors to compensate for the missed milestones, or shift away from day and date digital releases, like “Free Guy” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, which are exclusively available in cinemas. With the pandemic still running wild, with numbers rising and restrictions being reimposed, it’s a difficult time for both Disney and talent, with how to best navigate the situation.
What do you think of Scarlet Johansson suing Disney over its Disney+ Premier Access release?
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.