In a shocking new development, Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson who plays a female superhero in Black Widow has filed a case against Disney. She has alleged a breach of contract by the studio. She has claimed that Disney broke its commitment to release the film only in theatres. As we know, it came out simultaneously in the theatres and OTT platform Disney +. Her lawyer has said that Scarlett Johansson's salary was linked to the box-office performance of Black Widow and this dual release will affect her remuneration. As per The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit reads, "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." It seems the actress has suffered losses to the extent of USD 50 million.
A spokesperson from Disney said that Scarlett Johansson's allegations of losing out on money lacks in merit. They have also termed it as "sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic". The representative said that the firm honoured her contract. They maintain that the digital release lets her earn additional compensation over and above her fee of USD 20 million. It should be noted that exhibitors/distributors/theatres owners globally are going through a crisis. Desperate studios are releasing movies on OTT platforms to break even or earn some profit. Black Widow was supposed to come out on May 2020 but finally released in the US and other nations on July 9, 2021.
Johansson's lawyer John Berlinski told CNN Business, "It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company’s stock price — and that it’s hiding behind Covid-19 as a pretext to do so. But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we look forward to proving as much in court." The movie should release in India on Disney+ Hotstar in October.
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