The legal battle between Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson and Disney has come to an end. They have settled a breach of contract lawsuit over the star’s Black Widow payday. Though, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit filed by the actress against the studio was poised to have dramatic implications for all of Hollywood’s major studios. Johansson stated, “I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney. I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come.”
On the other hand, Disney Studios chairman Alan Bergman added, “I’m very pleased that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement with Scarlett Johansson regarding Black Widow. We appreciate her contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects, including Disney’s Tower of Terror.”
The suit was filed in July in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming that the studio sacrificed the film’s box office potential in order to grow its fledgling Disney+ streaming service. Disney countered that Johansson was paid $20 million for the film. Johansson’s cause received support in the industry, with talent and executives speaking out on her behalf, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Marvel’s Wanda Vision star Elizabeth Olsen and mogul Jason Blum.
In her complaint, Johansson said the Marvel had guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release when she signed her deal. She alleged that her contract was breached when the film was simultaneously released on Disney+.
Black Widow, which has earned $379 million at the worldwide box office to date, debuted at the same time in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access for an additional $30. Disney boasted on July 11 that Black Widow earned $60 million via Disney+ Premier Access. However, Johansson had been considering litigation for several months. Until the afternoon of July 28, she believed Disney would make an offer and that she wouldn’t have to file a suit. But Disney stayed in the mode of, “Let’s keep talking.”
As the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on Hollywood over the past 18 months, Black Widow was one of many big-budget movies, also including Warner Bros.’s Wonder Woman 1984 and Disney’s Cruella and Jungle Cruise, that were released simultaneously on streaming and in theaters. In the wake of Johansson’s suit, more than a handful of other A-listers were said to be considering filing similar suits.
While Disney has faced criticism for its handling of talent deals during the pandemic, Warner Media took a different approach by proactively doling out as much as $200 million to pay a long list of stars whose Warner Bros. films were simultaneously opening in theaters and on its HBO Max streaming service, including Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot and Will Smith.
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