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Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over ‘Black Widow’ release

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Scarlett Johansson is suing Walt Disney Co. over her streaming of “Black Widow,” which she says broke her contract and robbed her of potential earnings.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday morning in Los Angeles Superior Court, the “Black Widow” star and executive producer said her contract guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news of the lawsuit.

Johansson’s potential earnings were tied to the film’s box office performance, which the company simultaneously released in theaters and on its Disney + streaming service for a $ 30 rental.

“In the months leading up to this lawsuit, Ms. Johansson gave Disney and Marvel every chance to right their wrong and keep Marvel’s promise,” the lawsuit said. “Disney intentionally instigated Marvel to violate the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from taking full advantage of her market with Marvel.”

Disney’s response to Johansson’s trial on Thursday was unusually harsh: “There is no merit in this filing. The lawsuit is particularly sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After its release was delayed for more than a year due to COVID-19, “Black Widow” debuted with a pandemic record of $ 80 million in North America and $ 78 million in theaters international three weeks ago, but theatrical receipts fell sharply thereafter. On its second weekend of release, the National Association of Theater Owners released a rare statement criticizing the strategy saying the simultaneous release only lends itself to lost profits and better pirating.

Once taboo, hybrid theatrical and streaming releases have become more normal for many of the larger studios during the pandemic, each adopting their own strategy. This weekend, Disney is using the same strategy with “Jungle Cruise,” and next weekend, Warner Bros. “The Suicide Squad” opens both in theaters and on HBO Max.

The hybrid release strategies revised over the 16-month period have at times led to public feuds not only from theater owners, but also stars, filmmakers and financiers who are unhappy with the potential revenue losses and the alleged decision-making. unilateral involved.

The WSJ said Warner Media, for example, paid more than $ 200 million in “modified deals” with talent for its decision to release its entire 2021 roster simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.

But none have been as public as the Johansson trial. The actor, who starred in nine Marvel films dating back to “Iron Man 2” in 2010, quickly became a trending topic on Twitter Thursday after the lawsuit was announced.

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