*“Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney for releasing the film on its Disney+ streaming service at the same time it was in theaters.
The actress claims her contract was breached by the move and, per the Wall Street Journal, is likely to cost Johansson more than $50 million.
PEOPLE writes, “In the lawsuit obtained by PEOPLE, Johansson said her Black Widow contract with Disney’s Marvel Entertainment was for a guaranteed exclusive movie theater release, with the bulk of her salary depending in large part on the film’s box office performance.”
“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,” the suit said.
Johansson’s attorney John Berlinski told PEOPLE in a statement: “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. But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we look forward to proving as much in court,” the statement read.
“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,” it continued.
Disney responded to the lawsuit, calling it “sad” and “distressing.”
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” a spokesperson for the Walt Disney Company said in a statement. “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“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,” the statement read.
“Black Widow” bagged $80 million at the domestic box office in its opening weekend.