Scarlett Johansson took Hollywood by storm on Thursday when we learned the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Natasha Romanoff is suing the Walt Disney Company for allegedly breaching its contract with the hybrid release of Black Widow. Another major leading actress linked to Disney’s Premier Access model reportedly turned to her lawyer after Johansson’s move: Cruella’s Emma Stone.
Scarlett Johansson plans to take Walt Disney Studios to court because of the company’s decision to release the Marvel film in theaters and Disney+ Premier Access on the same day in July. Although Black Widow took home a pandemic-era best with its opening weekend, the Marvel film fell short after that, dropping a troubling 67% in its second weekend in theaters.
Scarlett Johansson’s contract reportedly promised an exclusive theatrical release and a backend salary based upon the box office numbers that has now fallen short due to Disney’s new movie release business model. We don’t know the details of Emma Stone’s contract with the House of Mouse for Cruella, but according to The Hollywood Reporter editor Matt Belloni (via Screen Rant), the Oscar-winner is “weighing her options” in terms of legal action against the company.
Cruella was also chosen to hit theaters on May 28 at the same time as its Disney+ Premier Access release for $29.99. The movie made $221 million worldwide – much lower than similar live-action Disney films have done in theaters prior. 2014’s Maleficent, for example, made $758 million worldwide, and its 2019 sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil took home $491 million worldwide.
Depending on Emma Stone’s own contract with the Walt Disney Company, the actress could also make a case for a breached contract. Considering Scarlett Johansson is going to court with one of the biggest movie studios in the world, she must have a strong case to take up in court. And if Disney did, in fact, breach her contract, more actors could be looking at the fine print and noticing something wrong there.
The report from the What I'm Hearing … newsletter also suggests that Scarlett Johansson has received “overwhelming support” from her fellow artists, including other actors. The Walt Disney Company responded to Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit by denying the claims, sharing that it felt there was “no merit” to her filing along with these words:
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.
Scarlett Johansson’s lawyer has since responded to Disney’s claim by remarking that the company made a “direct attack on her character,” along with sharing that they believe Disney has moved their revenue stream and profits “deliberately” on the streaming side leaving its filmmakers short. The next Disney film to receive this hybrid model is Jungle Cruise, which is now out in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access, and stars two major Hollywood actors, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. Check back here on CinemaBlend for more updates regarding developments regarding this Disney lawsuit.