Disney sued by Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson over streaming movie release, report says

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Disney is being sued by Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson over the company’s decision to sell the blockbuster Marvel on its Disney Plus streaming service concurrently with its theatrical release, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The lawsuit claims that Disney violated Johansson’s contract, which would have guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release and based his salary in part on the film’s amount at the box office – but not on any streaming success.

Disney did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment.


Marvel’s Black Widow is the latest – and biggest – same-day movie release on Disney Plus to date. As became the practice of several major studios during the pandemic, Disney released the film in theaters and online at the same time, giving moviegoers broader options for watching a much-anticipated film when the risks to the health and public safety protocols continue to cripple the public. ability and willingness to crowd into theaters. Disney’s model, known as Premier Access, requires an additional payment of $ 30 on top of the regular Disney Plus subscription price.

But this same-day strategy has outraged some of Hollywood’s greatest directors and stars, whose salaries are often tied to box office performances in contracts designed before the pandemic, when the idea of ​​a release the same day on a streaming service was nonsense. . When Warner Bros. revealed an unprecedented plan to release his entire 2021 roster on the HBO Max streaming service at no additional cost the same day the films hit theaters, Christopher Nolan – one of the studio’s star directors for nearly 20 years – made fun of the decision to turn the “biggest movie studio” into “the worst streaming service”.

Johansson’s trial marks the most high-profile legal challenge to the same-day strategy to date.

Black Widow drew a large following on its opening weekend, both on the big screen and at home. Disney Plus subscribers spent over $ 60 million to watch it online, in addition to its $ 158 million at the global box office in its first weekend. But the film did not have as much resistance from theatergoers over the following weekends as previous Marvel blockbusters, fueling speculation that the film’s availability online could weigh on demand to see it in theaters. .


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