Saturday , September 30 2023
The film was the first solo outing for Johansson's Black Widow character, after appearances in multiple Marvel movies

Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over streaming of Black Widow at same time it was released in cinemas

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Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney – accusing the company of breaching her contract when it offered the film Black Widow on its streaming service at the same time as it was released in theatres.

The actress‘s earnings are based partly on the Marvel film’s box office takings and, in court papers, she said the movie was intended for initial release exclusively in cinemas.

Instead, the dual release had resulted in her earning less than she would have otherwise, she argued.

Actress Scarlett Johansson is suing Walt Disney Studios over the streaming release of "Black Widow". Pic: zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx/AP
Image:Actress Scarlett Johansson is suing Walt Disney Studios over the streaming release of Black Widow. Pic: zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx/AP

In the complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, she alleged that Disney wanted to increase subscriber numbers for its streaming vehicle Disney+.

So when Black Widow debuted on 9 July in theatres, the company had also released it on streaming for a $30 (£19 in the UK) charge.

The suit seeks unspecified damages to be determined at trial.

This image released by Disney shows Scarlett Johansson in a scene from "Black Widow." (Jay Maidment/Disney-Marvel via AP)

Scarlett Johansson starred in the 2021 film Black Widow. Pic: Marvel Studios

Disney said there was “no merit” in the claims, insisting that it complied with Johansson’s contract.

The release of the movie on Disney+ had “significantly enhanced her (Johansson’s) ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20m (£14.3m) she has received to date”.

Disney said the lawsuit was “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Many companies have been forced to release films on streaming services because a lot of cinemas were closed as part of global efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

A similar dual release strategy is being used by Disney for the film Jungle Cruise, which stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt this week.

Black Widow, the story of the Russian assassin turned Avenger, earned $80m (£57m) in US and Canadian box offices on its debut weekend and $60m (£43m) through Disney+.

Johansson, who topped the Forbes magazine list of the world’s highest-paid actress in 2018 and 2019, has played the character in nine Marvel films.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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