Disney has issued a statement after it was revealed Scarlett Johannson is suing the company over its streaming release of Black Widow.
The actor, who plays the titular superhero and served as executive producer on the Marvel film, filed a lawsuit on Thursday morning in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming her contract had been breached.
Scarlett said that her contract guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release, but the film simultaneously debuted on streaming service Disney+ for a 30 dollar (£21.50) rental earlier this month.
Toni Anne Barson via Getty ImagesScarlett Johansson
The star’s potential earnings were tied to the box office performance of the film.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, said: “In the months leading up to this lawsuit, Ms Johansson gave Disney and Marvel every opportunity to right their wrong and make good on Marvel’s promise.
“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.”
While Disney did not immediately respond, they have since issued a statement to The Independent, claiming that there is “no merit whatsoever to this filing”.
“The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
“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 $20m she has received to date.”
MarvelScarlett in her Black Widow role
Black Widow’s release was delayed by more than a year because of Covid-19, and debuted to a pandemic-best of 80 million dollars (£57.2 million) in North America and 78 million dollars (£55.8 million) from international cinemas three weeks ago, but theatrical grosses declined sharply after that.
While cinemas were closed during the pandemic, hybrid theatrical and streaming releases have become more normal for many of the biggest studios.
This weekend, Disney is employing the same strategy with its latest release, Jungle Cruise, which stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.