Scarlett Johansson sues Disney for ‘breach of contract’ over Black Widow release

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Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson is set to sue entertainment giant Disney for "breach of contract".

Scarlett claims that the simultaneous release of new Marvel Studios blockbuster Black Widow in cinemas and on streaming service Disney+ violated the deal she’d struck up in her contract – and cost her plenty of cash.

Media outlet TMZ reportedly obtained legal documents in which the actress claims her contract with Disney stated the film would be exclusively released in cinemas.

She said her salary was dependent on how well the film did at the box office – but, adding it to the online streaming service could mean lower audience figures in theatres across the world.

TMZ claims Scarlett "tried settling" the matter out of court, as many other studios have combatted pandemic regulations cutting into box office figures by offering stars additional compensation – but her efforts allegedly fell on deaf ears.

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She was told that if the film hit certain benchmark figures, she’d begin to earn bonuses.

In the lawsuit filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Scarlett’s attorneys wrote: "Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realising the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.”

Scarlett argues that Disney presumably benefitted in a financial sense by gaining additional subscribers for Disney+ by being able to advertise the mega movie on the system.

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But the National Association of Theatre Owners insist that simultaneous release "costs Disney money in revenue per viewer over the life of the film".

The filed suit does, however, state that Disney’s stock in fact rose after it released the gross rental figures.

It continued: "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."

And the suit also included emails from Johansson’s management group, which guaranteed the film would hit cinemas exclusively.

Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi promised in the attached correspondence: "We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses."

On its US opening weekend, Black Widow grossed $80million – that’s around £57.7million in GBP.

It also accumulated another $78million outside of the United States, and $60million from home purchases on Disney+.

Daily Star has contacted Disney for comment

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