Disney fired back at Scarlett Johansson on Thursday after the Marvel actress filed a lawsuit against the studio for releasing “Black Widow” on Disney+.
Johansson claims she was guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release of the film and that much of her salary was tied to box office performance.
“This application has no merit,” Disney said in a statement on Thursday. “The lawsuit is especially sad and disturbing in its heartless disregard for the horrific and long-lasting global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Disney has fully honored Ms. Johansson’s contract, and in addition, the release of ‘Black Widow’ on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly increased its ability to earn additional compensation on top of $20. [million] which she has received so far,” it added.
According to the actress’s lawsuit, Johansson’s representatives had requested assurances that “Black Widow” would be released in theaters as early as 2019.
Johansson’s lawsuit cited a response from Marvel’s lead attorney, stating that “Black Widow” would be released like other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This means it would have a theatrical run before hitting the home video market.
“We understand that if the plan changes, we will need to discuss this with you and come to an agreement as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses,” the reply reads.
This statement was issued months before the pandemic disrupted the cinema industry and forced studios to change theatrical release strategies.
The filing claims that once Johansson learned that “Black Widow” would be released on streaming and in theaters on the same day, she tried to negotiate with Marvel. Disney and Marvel did not respond.
It’s unclear how much Johansson was paid to star as Natasha Romanoff in the film or whether Disney’s alleged $20 million payout includes one of the film’s current box office payouts.