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Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over Black Widow movie

Spanky

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I guess Stephen Dorff was right to feel embarrassed for her after all
from theverge

Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the simultaneous streaming release of Black Widow, which debuted the same day in theaters and on Disney Plus through its Premier Access service.

The suit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court and alleges that Johansson’s contract with Marvel Entertainment, which is owned by Disney, ensured a “wide theatrical release” of the film. The suit says it’s “well understood” that the agreement meant an exclusive release that would not include streaming. Johansson’s salary was in part based on the box office performance of the film, the suit says, meaning the streaming offer could meaningfully cut into her paycheck.

“Disney knew that the cannibalization of [box office receipts] by Disney+ would save Marvel (and by extension, Disney) ‘very large’ amounts of money that it would otherwise owe Ms. Johansson,” the lawsuit states. “On information and belief, Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the Agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.”

Johansson could lose $50 million because of the altered release plans, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the lawsuit. A spokesperson for Disney did not immediately return a request for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that Disney had two primary motivations for the hybrid release. First, it argues, Disney wanted to boost subscriber numbers for its streaming service and inflate its stock value. Second, the suit states, “Disney wanted to substantially devalue Ms. Johansson’s agreement and thereby enrich itself.”

The lawsuit’s argument — that Disney promised an exclusive theatrical release before reneging on that assurance — seems to hinge on what constitutes a “theatrical release.” The suit states that both Marvel and Johansson understood the contractual promise of a wide theatrical debut to mean the film “would initially be released exclusively in movie theatres, and that it would remain exclusively in movie theatres for a period of between approximately 90 and 120 days.” But it’s not stated whether those details are present in her contract.

“As Ms. Johansson, Disney, Marvel, and most everyone else in Hollywood knows, a ‘theatrical release’ is a release that is exclusive to movie theatres,” the suit states. “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 does seem to have understood that changing the release strategy would impact Johansson. Marvel’s chief counsel, David Galluzzi, wrote to Johansson’s representatives in 2019, indicating there would be a discussion if the release plan shifted, according to the lawsuit. “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,” Galluzzi is quoted as writing.

Over the course of the pandemic, several of Disney’s titles originally intended for exclusive theatrical releases instead debuted simultaneously in theaters and on Disney Plus through its Premier Access platform. Premier Access charges an additional fee of $30 to stream these films from home on Disney Plus at the same time they’re playing in theaters. Black Widow, Cruella, and the live-action remake of Mulan are among a handful of films that have released this way as theaters buckled under pandemic lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions.

It’s a significant development in the release structure that has emerged during the pandemic. Many major streamers have opted to release films this way, including HBO Max. The model has come under fire from major Hollywood directors like Dune director Denis Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan.

The lawsuit filed this week alleges that following Disney’s announcement that the picture would debut as a day-and-date title, Johansson and her team attempted to negotiate with Marvel about the film’s release. It alleges that Marvel “ignored this outreach,” and the film debuted on Disney Plus under the hybrid release model anyway.
 
ILLYRIAN
ILLYRIAN
Still harping on about Stephen Dork, er Dorff. So Disney says sod the actors, I hope their attitude bites them big time.

Spanky

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Disney said “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.” they also stated that “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.”

This will be interesting. I'm sure if this were not her last movie she would not bring this lawsuit forward.
 

thetopher

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Only $20 Million? Outrageous.

This seems a lot like grasping, especially in the light of recent interviews where ScarJo showed disdain for the Black Widow character and how she was previously interpreted or 'sexualized' in movies (on an unrelated note Chris Hemsworth's Thor is contractually obliged to take his shirt of in every movie not to mention the many lingering close-ups of Chris Evan's bum).

I think @Spanky is right, this is all because its her last movie and she wants every last cent from this 'indignity' before moving on to serious projects.

It's a shame since the BW movie was born out of the character being a fan-favorite and people wanted to see her take centre stage so her backstory could get fleshed out; this was mostly because the character was written as a cool, sexy, intriguing intelligent badass (written that way mostly by men, incidentally) who was given many iconic moments and great interplay with other characters.
 

Spanky

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The lawsuit asks the question why would Disney forgo hundreds of millions of dollars in box office receipts by releasing the movie in theatres at a time when it knew the theatrical market was ‘weak,’ rather than waiting a few months for that market to recover?

Seeing how the movie kept getting pushed back, I think holding off on releasing it until the market recovered to be a flimsy excuse. I would think that A- they have no idea what and how the movies will look in a few months and B- the longer they wait to release the movie seemingly the less appeal it would have.

To me the lawsuit saying that Disney released it too early and it affected her earnings just doesn't have much merit at all. It seems like nothing more than a tone deaf cash grab. Especially considering they waited until the steep second week drop in tickets before bringing the suit forward.
 

Spanky

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But it's not really important to me lol
Not really important to me either, just really interesting. If she "wins", that really sets a precedent. What's to stop other stars from the movie doing the same? Or any of these people (thinking of villeneuve) from claiming damages when Warner or Disney drop the movie on their streaming sites the same time. At least Disney charged for the movie to be viewed, HBO gives it away for free.
 

Buffy Summers

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Well, the question is, whether Disney broke their contract or not. If they did, then they should pay. If they do it in the future, then they should pay.
 

Spanky

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from giz

The haymakers have continued Friday when Johansson’s agency, Creative Artists Agency, released a statement firing back. “I want to address the Walt Disney Company’s statement that was issued in response to the lawsuit filed against them yesterday by our client Scarlett Johansson,” Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of the Creative Artists Agency, said in a statement obtained by Variety. “They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t.”

“The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of ... That’s it, pure and simple. Disney’s direct attack on her character and all else they implied is beneath the company that many of us in the creative community have worked with successfully for decades.”

Matt Belloni, former editor at the Hollywood Reporter, said in his newsletter (posted by Screenrant) that Emma Stone might be considering a similar lawsuit with regards to Cruella which Disney released exclusively via its streaming services’ “Premier Access.” Emily Blunt and John Krasinski may have also looked at similar options with their Paramount film, A Quiet Place Part 2


I think it's fair to say that Johansson won't be working for Disney anytime soon.
 
NileQT87
NileQT87
Bryan Lourd is Carrie Fisher's ex-husband (the one who left her for a man) and father of Billie Lourd. Interesting little side note, given this is against Disney.

DeadlyDuo

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Looks like Karma is starting to come for Disney. I hope Johnny Depp also sues the ass off of them, given that they fired him from the PotC franchise based on Amber Heard's lies.

If Johansson wins her lawsuit, then it opens the door for a lot of other actors and creators to start suing. Disney have already tarnished their reputation over the Gina Carano and Johnny Depp stuff, screwing over a third actor with Johansson really starts looking like a patter. If Emma Stone sues too, that's then 4 actors seemingly screwed over by Disney. In Hollywood, reputation is everything. Will it bankrupt Disney? Doubtful, but it could mean some of the bigger name stars will be reluctant to join a studio that has a habit of shafting its cast.
 

Fuffy Baith

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I'm not sure what the actual contract obligations are, but it sounds like ScarJo was promised and exclusive theatrical release, she was a producer on Black Widow. And then she would get bonuses if the movie hit certain box office numbers. They decided to put it on Disney Plus without consulting either Scarlet or Marvel Studios Head Kevin Fiege. Now, it is Disney's film so they could move it, but if it breaches their contract then they need to compensate for that, and they did not. The outcome of this sets a bit of a precedent for studios going forward and putting their movies on their own streaming services, and should that be negotiated in the contracts. Unfortunately, Black Widow has not done as well as it should have, had it come out pre-pandemic, but that's not ScarJo's fault.

Same think was happening over at WB when they decided to move their movies to HBO Max without telling anyone, but they did make a deal with Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot for Wonder Woman 84. WB has been slowing paying directors and actors in order to be able to put these movies on HBO Max. The difference is that Disney is charging for their premiere access movies, and should ScarJo get a cut of that. I don't have the answers, I don't know the exacts of the contracts, but it's an interesting case that could affect actor and directors contracts going forward.
 

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Disney said “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.”
Disney's statement is just so cringey. As if they really give a damn about the pandemic and how ordinary people have suffered *massive eye roll. For that alone, I hope Johansson wins.
I wouldn't have cared much about this, except that I really give the stink-eye to Disney's statement. Are they donating all their proceeds to Covid victims, who are preferably also starving orphans? Let me get my violin.

Also, they try to paint ScarJo as grasping and greedy, and yet I'm sure fortunes are being made all around. If they broke the contract, it doesn't matter how much she's made.
 

Spanky

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Times Up, ReFrame, and Women In Film have issued a joint statement today, voicing their support for actor Scarlett Johansson, and labeling Disney’s attempts to counter her recent lawsuit against the company as “a gendered character attack.”

“This gendered character attack,” the joint statement says, “has no place in a business dispute and contributes to an environment in which women and girls are perceived as less able than men to protect their own interests without facing ad hominem criticism.”
 
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DeadlyDuo

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Times Up, ReFrame, and Women In Film have issued a joint statement today, voicing their support for actor Scarlett Johansson, and labeling Disney’s attempts to counter her recent lawsuit against the company as “a gendered character attack.”

“This gendered character attack,” the joint statement says, “has no place in a business dispute and contributes to an environment in which women and girls are perceived as less able than men to protect their own interests without facing ad hominem criticism.”

With that statement alone, those 3 organisations have basically reduced Johansson's case to "she's a woman and thus incapable of dealing with this on her own because she's a woman". This issue is that Johansson is getting shafted by Disney and losing money, not what gender she is.

This is why people stop taking victimhood narratives seriously. People start claiming victimhood over the slightest thing, blaming it on race or gender, especially when it has nothing to do with race or gender. Would those companies be rushing to chime in if Johansson was male? No because they can play the "gender" card. I'm surprised the ACLU aren't trying to get their grubby little mitts involved, but then again they're dealing with their own problem right now that will completely destroy their own credibility if it hasn't already.
 
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Dogs of Winter

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Disney's statement is just so cringey. As if they really give a damn about the pandemic and how ordinary people have suffered *massive eye roll. For that alone, I hope Johansson wins.

Could not agree more. I dont really care about an already rich actress suing a mega rich company, but Disney deserve to lose just for trying to use Covid to get sympathy, when they have always been unashamedly about making as much money as possible

While Disneys reply is pathetic I am not too sure why the reply has been accused of being sexist, unless I missed something?

And It would be interesting if she does win as it may produce a few more cases like it

This will be interesting. I'm sure if this were not her last movie she would not bring this lawsuit forward.

Not sure about that. They have a different view on legal cases in Hollywood. I was reading a series on Hollywood conflict a while back and there were so many cases where people would be suing each other in the morning and then going to eat together at lunchtime, and when asked why, they would say Its just business
 

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While Disneys reply is pathetic I am not too sure why the reply has been accused of being sexist, unless I missed something?
It's not overtly, but in general men get more respect for standing up for themselves, particularly for their financial interests in the workplace. For instance, women who ask for raises tend to get a lot more backlash. You notice Disney chose the tactic of appealing to emotions, calling her callous and uncaring about Covid victims. If it were a man, it seems more likely they would have stuck to financial considerations, not implying that the male actor has no right to put his interests first, or that he is unfeeling for doing so. The emotional language therefore seems gendered and sexist.
 

DeadlyDuo

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While Disneys reply is pathetic I am not too sure why the reply has been accused of being sexist, unless I missed something?

Because there's a massive victim narrative going on where anyone who isn't white and male is somehow a victim in one way or another. It's ridiculous.
 
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