Matt Belloni discusses Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney, claiming that she never thought she would have to file it against the company.
Scarlett Johansson never thought she would have to file a lawsuit against Disney over Black Widow’s release. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Black Widow’s premiere was delayed multiple times. Eventually, Disney settled on a hybrid strategy, releasing the film in theaters and on Disney+ simultaneously on July 9. The decision proved to be beneficial for the studio, as Black Widow broke pandemic era box office records and earned an extra $60 million globally from Disney+ Premier Access sales. However, the studio is now dealing with serious fallout.
A couple weeks after Black Widow came out, Johansson sued Disney, citing breach of contract. The core issue of the lawsuit is box office bonuses were set to be part of Johansson’s salary. She claims the Disney+ release cost her around $50 million, since Disney never renegotiated her Black Widow contract to reflect the hybrid release strategy. It’s proven to be an ugly situation for everyone involved; even Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is angry at Disney about everything. And at one point, Johansson thought it would never have to come to this.
Matt Belloni discusses the lawsuit in his newsletter publication, What I’m Hearing. In it, the former THR editor notes that Johansson never thought she would have to file a lawsuit against the company, adding that she was anxious it would damage her career and plaster her as the public face of the whole ordeal. Belloni continues to state that the Black Widow star’s agent, who has been with her since her character’s debut in Iron Man 2, was keen to stand up for her rights and what she was owed. See his discussion here:
“First, [Bryan] Lourd [Scarlett Johansson’s agent] is particularly close to and protective of Johansson. He’s represented her since 2008, guided her through the Marvel movies, the box office bona fides with 2014’s Lucy, and last year’s double Oscar nominations for Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit. Johansson never thought this lawsuit would end up having to be filed, and no one on the team was particularly anxious to pull the trigger, knowing it would generate international headlines, might hurt her ability to work, and would turn her into the public face of the debate, possibly for years to come. There’s a reason that stars in their prime almost never sue, and some are already comparing her to Olivia de Haviland, whose lawsuit brought down the studio system. That’s a bit hyperbolic, but it’s a big deal. And Lourd, having made what I’m told were more than a dozen private attempts to resolve this matter over several months, was a strong advocate for standing up for her rights.”
Belloni also references Disney’s aggressive response to Johansson’s reasons for suing, in which they claimed that the actress had zero sympathy for the effects of the pandemic and implied that releasing Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access (which costs viewers $30 dollars) would increase and rival the earnings she may have lost from the theatrical release. Since Johansson has been an integral part of the MCU since 2010’s Iron Man 2, it comes as a surprise that she has to take such a firm stand against the production company, who should be supporting an actress that has worked with them for so long. Disney, however, initially wanted to release Black Widow in May, both in theaters and online, which would have further damaged Johansson’s salary as the COVID-19 vaccinations were not in full rollout.
Bryan Lourd’s support for Johansson comes after multiple financial scandals where female actors were not paid the same as their male counterparts in both the MCU and the industry as a whole. Johansson, for example, was paid less than the male actors in The Avengers, but has since been receiving higher salaries to match. The lawsuit poses as another example of the film industry trying to take away the finances female actors deserve. Further, Marvel was criticized for how long it took them to script and produce Johansson’s solo movie, which came after nearly every other male actor in the franchise got at least two movies dedicated to their character. After a decade of portraying the role, Johansson is now retiring Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, but not before she strives to achieve equality for all actors and actresses in the industry. Her lawsuit is encouraging other Disney actors to step forward, so more is set to be revealed.
MORE: Black Widow Proves Disney Shouldn’t Abandon Premier Access Yet
Source: Matt Belloni
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