This image released by Marvel Studios shows Scarlett Johansson, left, and Rachel Weisz in a scene from "Black Widow." (Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios-Disney via AP)
Scarlett Johansson has filed a case against Disney for releasing the movie Black Widow simultaneously on its streaming platform and theatres. The Hollywood actor has alleged a breach of contract that cost the star millions of dollars.
The lawsuit filed at Los Angeles Superior Court states that Johansson was entitled to a percentage of box office receipts from the much-anticipated Marvel film. It also states that Johansson's contract guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release.
“In the months leading up to this lawsuit, Ms. Johansson gave Disney and Marvel every opportunity to right their wrong and make good on Marvel’s promise,” the lawsuit said.
Read | 'Black Widow' breaks pandemic record, earns $60 million from Disney+, $80 million from theatrical debut
“Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the Agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel," it added.
The release of the film was delayed three times from an original May 2020 date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was eventually released in July simultaneously in theatres and on Disney+.
"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," said Johansson's attorney John Berlinski in a statement to AFP.
Also read | ‘Black Widow’ gives a taste of how theaters and streaming can coexist
"This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts," he added.
Disney said the lawsuit has “no merit whatsoever”.
“The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Disney said in a statement.
"Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date," it added.
'Black Widow' earned $80 million at the domestic box office during its debut, the biggest opening since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Following the film's opening weekend, Disney issued a press release claiming "Black Widow" had earned "over $60M" on Disney+ alone, where it was available to subscribers at an additional $30 cost.(With inputs from agencies)