Los Angeles (AFP)
Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over her decision to release the superhero film “Black Widow” on stream at the same time as in theaters, alleging a breach of contract that cost the star millions of dollars.
Johansson, one of Hollywood’s biggest and highest-paid stars, was entitled to a percentage of the box office revenue from the highly anticipated Marvel film, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday.
The film was originally slated to hit the big screen last year, but has been delayed several times due to the Covid-19 pandemic and ultimately released this month simultaneously in theaters and on Disney +.
Box office analysts cited the movie’s streaming debut as a major factor in a lackluster – by Marvel movie standards – release of a film that grossed just over $ 150 million in domestic theaters. in three weeks.
“It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly on Disney + to increase the number of subscribers and thus increase the company’s stock price – and that it is hiding behind Covid-19 like excuse to do so, ”Johansson’s lawyer John Berlinski said in a statement to AFP.
“This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that whatever the company may claim, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts,” he added.
Disney – which owns the Marvel Studios superhero film powerhouse – did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.
Like many Hollywood studios, Disney is increasingly prioritizing streaming as a source of future revenue.
After the film’s opening weekend, Disney issued a press release claiming that “Black Widow” had earned “over $ 60 million” from Disney + alone, where it was available to subscribers for a fee. additional $ 30.
Johansson’s lawsuit says that to “protect her financial interests, Ms. Johansson extracted a promise from Marvel that the release of the image would be a” theatrical release, “” which she said meant she didn’t would not appear in streaming before a traditional “window”. Time had passed.
But “Disney wanted to lure Picture audiences away from theaters and into their streaming service, where they could keep the revenue to themselves while simultaneously growing Disney + ‘s subscriber base, a proven way to grow. Disney’s share price, ”he says.
“Disney wanted to substantially devalue Ms. Johansson’s agreement and thus enrich itself,” he adds.
Rival studio Warner Bros. came under fire last year for a similar decision to release all of its 2021 films simultaneously in theaters and on its HBO Max platform.
Warner renegotiated many of his deals with stars and filmmakers, apparently paying $ 200 million to make up for lost box office revenue.
© 2021 AFP