Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over Black Widow's release
The film is yet to be released in India
Hollywood production studio Disney's decision to release the Scarlett Johansson-starrer Black Widow simultaneously in theatres and the OTT platform Disney Plus has not gone down well with the actor who has filed a lawsuit against the production giant.
According to the suit that was filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Johansson's attorneys claim that by not releasing the film exclusives in theatres, the studio has breached the contract with the star. Johansson, whose compensation was tied to the box office performance of the film has claimed in the suit that releasing the film simultaneously on their OTT platform has affected the ticket sales for the Marvel superhero's solo outing.
The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of the lawsuit, reports that the studio's move has reportedly resulted in lost bonuses of around $50 million. Black Widow, which is yet to be released in India, was one of several Disney films that were released simultaneously in theatres and on the studio’s subscription-based streaming service, for a premium of $30.
Despite earning $80 million in North America via ticket sales and an additional $60 million on Disney Plus, which is a pandemic-era box office record, the collections, which stand at $319 million globally still makes it the lowest-grossing Marvel film of all time.
While many A-list stars' contracts include backend profit participation, the rise of streaming services such as Netflix have seen such platforms removing those forms of compensation. Incidentally, when films of Warner Bros. were shown the OTT route because of the pandemic, the studio paid millions of dollars to their film's leads like Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and Keanu Reeves to compensate.
If this lawsuit turns out to be a success for Johansson, more actors are expected to seek additional compensation for their films that have to migrate to OTT platforms, thereby bringing in a new clause in their upcoming contracts.
Black Widow is expected to premiere in India on Disney+ Hotstar in August while there hasn't been a confirmation on the film's theatrical release in the subcontinent.