Scarlett Johansson

Fans Think Scarlett Johansson Actually Didn’t Want To Sue Disney, Here’s Why

Fans Think Scarlett Johansson Actually Didn't Want To Sue Disney, Here's Why

After setting box office records in 2019, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) finally made its return to the big screen with the release of Black Widow. As expected, the Scarlett Johansson-starrer was poised to make box office history. In fact, it enjoyed an estimated opening weekend gross of $218.8 million worldwide, the highest recorded while in the midst of a pandemic that is affecting the world.

That said, one would note that these figures reflect the movie’s earnings from Disney’s hybrid approach with Marvel’s parent company choosing to release Black Widow in theaters and Disney+ on the same day. And that essentially led Johansson to sue Disney, a move that has prompted mixed reactions from fans. At the same time, some are also under the impression that the Oscar-nominated actress never really intended to file a lawsuit against the House of Mouse in the first place. It turns out, they might be right.

Marvel Was ‘Induced’ Into Breaching Her Contract

Lockdowns enforced throughout the U.S. in 2020 forced movie theaters to shut down its operations as well. This largely prompted several movie studios to delay the release of several films, with Marvel Studios opting to release Black Widow in 2021 instead. That said, Johansson had obtained a “valuable contractual promise” from Marvel that the film would be given a “wide theatrical release.” That essentially meant that her film would show be “exclusively” shown in theaters for 90 to 120 days, the same theatrical window that was said to be “standard” for Marvel movies pre-pandemic.

With the launch of Disney+, Johansson was concerned about a possible same-day release of Black Widow on the streaming platform. However, the actress received assurances that her contract would be honored. According to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by Deadline, Marvel’s Chief Counsel, Dave Galluzzi, had told Johansson’s representatives, “Further [to] our conversation today, it is 100% our plan to do a typical wide release of Black Widow. We have very high expectations for the film and are very excited to try to do for Black Widow what we’ve just done with Captain Marvel.” Brie Larson’s first solo film hauled in an estimated $1.128 billion.

However, Disney allegedly intended to do a day-and-date release because that would have “intentionally saved Marvel (and thereby itself)” from having to pay Johansson “very large box office bonuses.” The actress’ representatives also questioned why Black Widow was given an early July release even when Disney CEO Bob Chapek admitted in May that the theatrical market was “still fairly weak.” The complaint also noted that Feige once admitted that the “Disney – not Marvel- was calling the shots” when it came to the release of Marvel content on Disney+.

Johansson’s legal team also pointed out that “Marvel’s decision to release the Picture simultaneously in theatres and on Disney+ Premier Access—if it can be called Marvel’s decision at all—was the direct result of Disney’s tortious interference with the Agreement.” Reps for the actress also accused Disney executives of deliberately orchestrating this strategy after Chapek was awarded equity grants that amounted to 3.8 times his $2.5 million base salary. Chapek had received the award after he “worked to quickly program new offerings on our DTC [direct-to-consumer] and linear channels.”

Why Fans Think She Never Intended To Take Disney To Court

Since news of Johansson’s broke, several industry groups have called out Disney. Amidst all these, reports also emerged that the actress never really intended to sue Marvel’s parent company in the first place. According to industry veteran and entertainment lawyer Matthew Belloni’s newsletter, the Black Widow star “never thought this lawsuit would end up having to be filed.” Moreover, he also revealed that “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.” Prior to filing the suit, Johansson’s team had reportedly made “more than a dozen private attempts” to resolve the matter. However, it seems Disney never budged.

Johansson’s agent, CAA co-chairman Bryan Loud, who has represented the actress since 2008, was also “legitimately shocked” that Disney would attack the Oscar nominee personally. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Lourd also pointed out, “The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of.”

Marvel’s Top Boss Is Not Happy About The Suit

Since the suit went public, Marvel has stayed mum on the issue. That said, Belloni also reported that Marvel’s Kevin Feige “pressured Disney against the day and date plan for Black Widow, preferring the exclusivity of the big screen and not wanting to disturb his star.” Moreover, “when things got ugly, the movie began to fail and Johansson’s team threatened to litigate, he wanted Disney to fix things with her.” Sources have also told Belloni that Feige is now “angry and embarrassed” over the way Disney responded to Johansson’s suit.

At the moment, it is unclear if the two parties will reach an amicable resolution. That said, many in Hollywood are said to be following the case closely as it might impact the way actors negotiate with studios. In addition, Emma Stone is reportedly “weighing her options” following Disney’s day-and-date release of Cruella in May.

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