Scarlett Johansson and the Walt Disney Company reached a settlement on Thursday in her lawsuit over the streaming release of “Black Widow,” putting an end to what had begun as the first big spat between a studio and a star over recent changes in film release plans.
Johansson filed the case two months ago in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that the Marvel movie’s streaming release violated her contract and deprived her of possible earnings.
The deal’s terms were not disclosed, but the two parties issued a joint statement pledging to continue working together.
Johansson, who has played Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow in nine films dating back to 2010’s “Iron Man 2,” said, “I am delighted to have settled our concerns with Disney.” “I’m quite happy of the work we’ve done together over the years, and I’ve had a terrific time working with the team creatively. I’m excited to continue working with you.”
“I am glad that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement,” said Alan Bergman, chairman of Disney Studios Content.
Bergman stated, “We appreciate her contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working with her on a number of upcoming projects.”
According to the lawsuit, Johansson’s contract stipulated an exclusive theatrical release, with her potential rewards contingent on the film’s box office performance.
However, as it has done with other recent films since the coronavirus pandemic began, Disney released the film simultaneously in theaters and on its streaming service Disney+ for a $30 rental, as it has done with other recent movies since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The lawsuit’s rhetoric and Disney’s response hinted at a lengthy and bruising battle ahead.
Ms. Johansson gave Disney and Marvel every opportunity to remedy their wrong and make good on Marvel’s promise in the months leading up to this lawsuit, according to the lawsuit. “Disney purposefully caused Marvel’s breach of the Agreement without justification in order to deprive Ms. Johansson of the full benefit of her Marvel contract.”
The case had “no merit whatsoever,” Disney claimed at the time, adding that it was “particularly sad and heartbreaking in its callous disdain for the catastrophic and long-term global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The new release schedule “significantly increased her chance to collect extra remuneration on top of the $20 million she has already received,” according to Disney.
On July 9, after being delayed for more than a year due to COVID-19, “Black Widow” opened to a then-pandemic-best $80 million in North America and $78 million from overseas cinemas. However, following that, box office receipts plummeted. The National Association of Theater Owners published an unusual statement denouncing the plan during its second weekend in theaters.
Revised hybrid release techniques have occasionally resulted in public squabbles between celebrities, directors, and financiers who are dissatisfied with prospective financial losses and their lack of input into such strategies.
None, however, were as large or as well-publicized as Johansson’s lawsuit.