Actress Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday that alleges Disney breached her contract by releasing the highly anticipated superhero film "Black Widow" on its streaming service, Disney+.
The film was released simultaneously on the service and in theaters, which the suit claims broke an agreement between the star and the company. The suit alleges that Johansson agreed that her salary for the film would be based, in large part, on the film's box office haul.
"To maximize these receipts, and thereby protect her financial interests, Ms. Johansson extracted a promise from Marvel that the release of the picture would be a 'theatrical release,'" the suit claimed. "As Ms. Johansson, Disney, Marvel, and most everyone else in Hollywood knows, a 'theatrical release' is a release that is exclusive to movie theatres. Disney was well aware of this promise, but nonetheless directed Marvel to violate its pledge and instead release the picture on the Disney+ streaming service the very same day it was released in movie theatres."
Disney (DIS) responded on Thursday saying that "there is no merit whatsoever to this filing" and that the suit is "especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic."
"Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson's contract and furthermore, the release of 'Black Widow' on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20 million she has received to date," a Disney spokesperson said in a statement.