Image: Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios’ latest superhero film is becoming a bigger headache than its parent company could have ever anticipated. Following the immense controversy derived from Disney’s decision to release Black Widow on its streaming service at the same time as its theatrical debut, star Scarlett Johansson is now suing the entertainment giant, alleging that her contract was breached. Supposedly, Disney released the film on its streaming service despite promising Johansson that her film would be guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release, which hurt her potential profits (“her salary was based in large part on the box-office performance of the film”). The legal battle suggests that Black Widow is definitely the last time audiences will see Johansson as Natasha Romanoff.

“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 couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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25 Comments

  1. Scarlett Johansson isn’t a nobody in the movie industry. She’s had directorial, and acting success long before Marvel came along and really doesn’t need the headache for a characters who’s future is already highly limited.

    Good for her for defending herself in this scenario. If promises were made and documented/recorded she will have an easy win.

    Not like Marvel would want her for a lot more work… they literally already killed her character off.

  2. Was her compensation tied to a percentage of theater revenue or something?

    Edit: Yes it was.

    That explains it.

  3. Hell hath no fury like a widow scorned……

    Cash grab. Is HBOgo, or Max, (whatever they call themselves these days), going to get the same when Dune releases in the theater as well as HBO at near the same time? “A[I]ll titles streaming on HBO Max for [B]31 days from theatrical release[/B]. Movies and release dates subject to change.”[/I]

    I’d mention Suicide Squad, but we already know it’s bombed before anyone sees it. You might have to pay people to pirate it.

    That movie will probably come free with every Toshiba HDD purchase.

    The theaters should be the ones fighting to stay in business. Since Covid, streaming services have a new business model, and movie theaters aren’t in that scheme of things.

  4. Gotta admit I don’t think I blame her. If her contract stated her pay was based on box office sales and Disney put it out over their streaming service taking away from the box office and her pay, I’d be raising hell too.

  5. Wow!

    Now, isn’t this PRIVELAGE ideology 101?!

    You see, they did this, woke mob, to give these low class actors the high-mind that they are much more but only barely a C-Class artists in anything.

    Get woke, go broke! 😂

  6. [QUOTE=”GunShot, post: 38600, member: 1790″]
    Wow!

    Now, isn’t this PRIVELAGE ideology 101?!

    You see, they did this, woke mob, to give these low class actors the high-mind that they are much more but only barely a C-Class artists in anything.

    Get woke, go broke! 😂
    [/QUOTE]

    You spelled Privilege wrong.

    You also make no sense.

  7. I don’t really care about this, but I do find it interesting.

    The first is, apparently, the contract states that Disney was required to put out the movie to “Wide theatrical release”. Which they did. And ScarJo gets some cut of that revenue from the theaters.

    She didn’t state anything about streaming, and neither did Disney – at least as far as the article reveals, we don’t actually have the contract to scrutinize. Team ScarJo is claiming that “Wide theatrical release” is industry jargon and equates to “Exclusive theatrical release”. I don’t know if it does or not, but to me just being an english-speaking person, I don’t see that at all – nothing about “wide” even hints at “exclusive” to me, but I acknowledge it’s possible it could have trade-specific meaning I’m not aware of. I guess that’s what the courts will decide, although 90/10 that this thing gets settled long before it makes it that far and just goes away.

    Me being a layman, sure seems like ScarJo just didn’t read the fine print well enough, and/or didn’t think to include streaming in there when they worked up the contract and just has sour grapes about it now. I don’t think Disney intentionally did this as a F-U to her or to try to skirt out of money, although they definitely did do it to help bolster their streaming service, there is no doubt to that. But I don’t think you can possibly point to some nefarious anti-ScarJo motive there and make that stick unless you have the smoking gun in hand for evidence.

    The asshat in me says she put in a phoned-in performance in a lackluster movie, she wasn’t going to get that much anyway even had it been exclusive to theaters, and some lawyers found a way to possibly get a pay day for both her and them. This wasn’t exactly an Oscar-worthy performance from her. Yeah, she should get paid, but I don’t think she’s due anything extra really – she didn’t bring anything to this movie apart from the fact that she had played the role before….

  8. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 38612, member: 96″]
    I don’t really care about this, but I do find it interesting.

    The first is, apparently, the contract states that Disney was required to put out the movie to “Wide theatrical release”. Which they did. And ScarJo gets some cut of that revenue from the theaters.

    She didn’t state anything about streaming, and neither did Disney – at least as far as the article reveals, we don’t actually have the contract to scrutinize. Team ScarJo is claiming that “Wide theatrical release” is industry jargon and equates to “Exclusive theatrical release”. I don’t know if it does or not, but to me just being an english-speaking person, I don’t see that at all – nothing about “wide” even hints at “exclusive” to me, but I acknowledge it’s possible it could have trade-specific meaning I’m not aware of. I guess that’s what the courts will decide, although 90/10 that this thing gets settled long before it makes it that far and just goes away.

    Me being a layman, sure seems like ScarJo just didn’t read the fine print well enough, and/or didn’t think to include streaming in there when they worked up the contract and just has sour grapes about it now. I don’t think Disney intentionally did this as a F-U to her or to try to skirt out of money, although they definitely did do it to help bolster their streaming service, there is no doubt to that. But I don’t think you can possibly point to some nefarious anti-ScarJo motive there and make that stick unless you have the smoking gun in hand for evidence.

    The asshat in me says she put in a phoned-in performance in a lackluster movie, she wasn’t going to get that much anyway even had it been exclusive to theaters, and some lawyers found a way to possibly get a pay day for both her and them. This wasn’t exactly an Oscar-worthy performance from her. Yeah, she should get paid, but I don’t think she’s due anything extra really – she didn’t bring anything to this movie apart from the fact that she had played the role before….
    [/QUOTE]

    Go back a few years and read how the most profitable movie franchise in a LONG time if not forever had signed all of the actors and actressess to a multi movie deal for shit money. Like 250k a movie. And they were not going to renegotiate shit until Robert Downey Jr came in and said. I want a fuck ton of money to do these movies AND I want all of the others in this franchise to be paid at a scale similar to mine as well or I walk.

    Disney caved and everyone got paid for movies they were in.

    BUT this put in a lot of bad blood between the actors and Disney. So now when Disney tries to screw money out of actors pockets again… they get sued. Because there is no big super star to stand up and make Disney fix this.

    Disney SHOULD have said. Any PAID streaming we do of this movie will get paid like 3 ticket sales equivalent pay to the associated stake holders.

    This would never have been a problem and Disney would have still banked money on it. (Hell put a term that during the premium access time only this applies afterwards every viewing of more than x percentage of time will credit one movie admission worth of view.)

    A lot of actors are seeing residuals just disappear on movies because everyone that would buy on physical media (that sees money go back to the cast and everyone that has a cut) now just has those sales cut into by the streaming service.

    Yea it might be wahhh I’m not making another 5 million on sales. or whatever the number would be. But it still matters because if they can screw over big stars imagine what they can do to small time actors or new actors or actresses.

  9. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 38613, member: 215″]
    But it still matters because if they can screw over big stars imagine what they can do to small time actors or new actors or actresses.
    [/QUOTE]

    Indeed.

  10. I just can’t have any sympathy for billionaries complaining about money. And suing for a bad business decisions that can’t even be proven to be bad as we don’t know if the movie would’ve done any better with a theater only release seems frivolous at best.

  11. Disney has good attorneys, it’ll be fine. Disney is all about meet our demands or else. Forcing theaters to play crap movies in their biggest venues for a certain amount of time, whether they sell tickets or not. Bonuses to upper management an lay off the little people, Artist’s rebellions, agenda’s.

    By now, they know how to wring out every penny from mediocre movies and pawn the loss off on others. Disney hasn’t become the empire it is by being cute, and anyone who deals with them should be prepared to fight for what is legitimately owed, providing your work is good enough to make money off of.

    It was a rough movie, and all should reap that loss, (the audience certainly did) but Disney will make theirs and piss on the ones that did the work.

    It’s all part of the mouses plan

  12. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 38619, member: 1298″]
    I just can’t have any sympathy for billionaries complaining about money. And suing for a bad business decisions that can’t even be proven to be bad as we don’t know if the movie would’ve done any better with a theater only release seems frivolous at best.
    [/QUOTE]
    [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 38613, member: 215″]
    But it still matters because if they can screw over big stars imagine what they can do to small time actors or new actors or actresses.
    [/QUOTE]

  13. [QUOTE=”Auer, post: 38623, member: 225″]

    [/QUOTE]
    I don’t see this as disney deliberately screwing over anyone, except maybe theaters. Also this is not a case that can serve as a precedent, so let’s not pretend ScarJo does this for humanitarian causes. Small and upcoming actors never get a revenue cut deal to begin with, that’s the privilege of big stars.

  14. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 38624, member: 1298″]
    I don’t see this as disney deliberately screwing over anyone, except maybe theaters. Also this is not a case that can serve as a precedent, so let’s not pretend ScarJo does this for humanitarian causes. Small and upcoming actors never get a revenue cut deal to begin with, that’s the privilege of big stars.
    [/QUOTE]
    Has nothing to do with her reasons for doing it.
    Stop making it sound like stars are born in to privilege lol.

  15. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 38613, member: 215″]
    Disney SHOULD have said. Any PAID streaming we do of this movie will get paid like 3 ticket sales equivalent pay to the associated stake holders.
    [/QUOTE]
    Why is it on Disney to have done this? Why didn’t ScarJo do it? Contracts aren’t written in vacuums – both sides get input.

    Disney also has an obligation to share holders to maximize their returns. ScarJo does the same for herself. It shouldn’t be on Disney to try to find more ways to pay ScarJo. They agreed to a contract, that contract didn’t include streaming revenue. It was poor over site on the part of ScarJo – live, learn, and don’t repeat.

  16. [QUOTE=”Auer, post: 38625, member: 225″]
    Has nothing to do with her reasons for doing it.
    Stop making it sound like stars are born in to privilege lol.
    [/QUOTE]
    Why so defensive? I like her too, but let’s separate on-screen appeal and off-screen behavior.
    To be fair I don’t think this is her doing personally, more like her agent / lawyers seeing an opportunity to earn their keeps.

  17. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 38630, member: 96″]
    Why is it on Disney to have done this? Why didn’t ScarJo do it? Contracts aren’t written in vacuums – both sides get input.

    Disney also has an obligation to share holders to maximize their returns. ScarJo does the same for herself. It shouldn’t be on Disney to try to find more ways to pay ScarJo. They agreed to a contract, that contract didn’t include streaming revenue. It was poor over site on the part of ScarJo – live, learn, and don’t repeat.
    [/QUOTE]
    The problem it seems that this movie was made a very long time ago, and thus the contract for it was signed even earlier than that where circumstance were very different.

    But it seems disney have screwed themselves because they claim to have evidence in an email where disney promised to re-negotiate pay in case the movie goes direct to streaming. That is the smoking gun imo.

  18. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 38639, member: 1298″]
    Why so defensive? I like her too, but let’s separate on-screen appeal and off-screen behavior.
    To be fair I don’t think this is her doing personally, more like her agent / lawyers seeing an opportunity to earn their keeps.
    [/QUOTE]
    I honestly don’t care who this is about but rather what.
    I worked in the entertainment industry in NYC and saw a lot of ppl treated very poorly regardless of fame.
    Mostly women, naturally.

  19. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 38640, member: 1298″]
    The problem it seems that this movie was made a very long time ago, and thus the contract for it was signed even earlier than that where circumstance were very different.

    But it seems disney have screwed themselves because they claim to have evidence in an email where disney promised to re-negotiate pay in case the movie goes direct to streaming. That is the smoking gun imo.
    [/QUOTE]
    I don’t see the first sentence as an issue. A contract is a contract. Stuff changes, sure, but if you didn’t have the foresight to account for that – them’s the breaks. I’ve got plenty of contracts where, if I had some hindsight, I definitely would have done things differently. But I didn’t, I learned from it for new contacts, and I live up to my end of the bargain, even though it sucks for me. I have gone back to the second party and asked that they renegotiate in good faith – sometimes they do, because my alternative may be to go out of business, but they have no obligation to such and it doesn’t always happen.

    That said, if they have some evidence, as you allude to in your second sentence – that might change things. But only if it happens to be in the context of the contract.

    If they just said “Sure we will” and it didn’t make it into the contract – well, just saying so isn’t necessarily legally binding. It may make it scummy, but not illegal. A signed contract, on the other hand, is legal.

  20. SO I heard more about this in the news today, and quite frankly, Scarlett Johnsson can go cry me a river.

    She already made $20M off of this film.

    Most people would consider that “fuck off money” and just retire.

    This is a millionaires vs billionaires fight, and I don’t give a rats ass who wins. I hope they all lose :p

  21. And it’s done

    [URL unfurl=”true”]https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/scarlett-johansson-disney-settle-black-widow-lawsuit-1235022598/amp/[/URL]

  22. Funny how the tunes change. I remember right after Avengers was made she stated she was unsure if she wanted to keep playing the character and within weeks of it crossing the $1b mark she then, like almost everyone else who hadn’t up until then, wanted her own solo picture. Fast forward to now and what a long strange trip its been. I support the principle of this because I feel the studios do need to adapt to these streaming vs. theater options but I’ve got doubts on how much of this lawsuit really had to do with principle.

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