Scarlett Johansson, star of the Marvel superhero film “Black Widow,” filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) on Thursday, alleging that the firm violated her contract by streaming the film at the same time it was released in theaters.
Disney said the complaint had “no merit” and that it had followed her contract. It added in a statement that streaming the film “substantially boosted her (Johansson’s) opportunity to collect extra pay on top of the $20 million she has received to date.”
Johansson claimed in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that the film’s split release plan had decreased her remuneration, which was based in part on box office profits from what was supposed to be an exclusive run in theaters.
On July 9, “Black Widow” was released in theaters and on the Disney+ streaming service for a $30 fee. During the coronavirus outbreak, Disney experimented with the hybrid pattern for a few films in order to increase their streaming service when many movie theaters across the world were shuttered.
Disney aimed to direct audiences onto Disney+, according to Johansson’s lawsuit, “where it could keep the income for itself while simultaneously boosting the Disney+ subscriber base, a proven technique to enhance Disney’s stock price.”
“Second, Disney desired to significantly devalue Ms. Johansson’s agreement in order to enrich itself,” according to the lawsuit.
Unspecified damages are sought in the lawsuit, which will be assessed at trial. – Reuters