In the legal dispute between Scarlett Johansson and Disney over “Black Widow”, other voices have now also been expressed. There is a threat of a potential wave of lawsuits.
Until now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) seemed like one big family full of harmony and love. But the machinery of Disney and Marvel Studios, which has so far been considered almost perfect, has got a first crack: Scarlett Johansson, one of the biggest Hollywood stars and long-time member of the Avengers as Natasha Romanoff alias Black Widow, has sued Disney for an alleged breach of contract.
Accordingly, she is said to have been contractually assured that “Black Widow” should run exclusively in the cinema and not – as has now actually happened – offered in parallel via Disney’s in-house streaming service Disney+. Since, according to the indictment, she does not want to have received an answer from Marvel Studios or Disney on request, she has decided together with her representatives to take legal action.
Disney has commented directly on the lawsuit in a statement. But the entertainment group has resorted to an unusually clear and aggressive choice of words: Johansson’s complaint is “sad and regrettable”, especially against the background of the global corona pandemic. They have adhered to the terms of the contract and Johansson even has the prospect of further revenue in addition to the already received 20 million US dollars basic fee through the provision via Disney+.
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Exactly this statement was condemned by the organization’s Women in Film, ReFrame and Time’s Up (via The Hollywood Reporter). In a joint statement, they said:
“While we do not want to take a position on the business matters surrounding the legal dispute between Scarlett Johansson and the Walt Disney Company, we condemn Disney’s recent statement, which attempted to portray Johansson as callous or selfish because of her struggle for her contractual rights. This gender-specific attack has no place in a business dispute and only serves to protect one’s own interests without facing the actual criticism in an environment where women and girls are considered less capable than men.”
Scarlett Johansson is said to be shocked and Marvel boss Kevin Feige ashamed
Scarlett Johansson also reacted indirectly to Disney’s response. Her team reportedly told The Wrap (via ComicBook.com) that she was “shocked by the tone” the studio had chosen towards her. Johansson apparently has an ally in Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and COO of Marvel Entertainment. According to insider and film journalist Matt Belloni, he is said to be extremely upset and ashamed of the entire situation. Feige is a defender of the cinematic experience and has always advocated running Marvel movies exclusively in theaters. Also with “Black Widow” the influential filmmaker and most successful producer of Hollywood is said to have been strictly against it:
“I was told that he (Kevin Feige) was angry and ashamed. He voted against the plan at Disney, preferred an exclusive theatrical release and did not want to disappoint his actors. And when everything went down the drain and Johansson’s team threatened to sue, he wanted Disney to make amends.”
Apparently, Disney did not assume that the 36-year-old would oppose such a large company with this high decision-making power. Belloni also claims to have learned that other stars are already considering legal action. For example, Emma Stone, who was last seen in “Cruella”. Disney also released this film in parallel in the cinema and on Disney+, while the amount of the fee at Stone should be linked to the cinema revenues. The name of Emily Blunt, whose new film “Jungle Cruise” has just been released in cinemas and is available via vip access from Disney+, is also said to have fallen in this context.
What is certain is that Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit could set a precedent that could decisively change the direction in which the film industry is currently moving.
In 2019, the (film) world was still in order, in many ways. Do you recognize the great movies des year based on a single picture?