Scarlett Johansson is taking on her most challenging role yet: plaintiff. Yesterday, the movie star filed a lawsuit against Disney, claiming the company violated her agreement with Marvel that guaranteed Black Widow an exclusive theatrical release. Disney responded by saying the lawsuit was frivolous and “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The backstory: Earlier this month, Disney released the movie in theaters and on its streaming service Disney+ for an additional $30. Black Widow earned $80 million at its opening weekend at the box office, a record for pandemic times, but not great for a Marvel movie.
- For reference, Spiderman: Far From Home (2019) brought in $185 million during its first weekend.
In an unprecedented move, Disney also announced that Black Widow made $60 million from Disney+. And seeing all that $$$ ticked Johansson off: Her salary is largely tied to box office performance, which may have been siphoned off by the simultaneous at-home release.
Big picture: Companies like Disney have thrown tens of billions into the streaming wars. The ScarJo case shows that the pivot to streaming has second-order effects—like how actors should be paid—that entertainment giants have yet to grapple with.