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Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney for Breach of Contract


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It is being reported by Variety that Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson has filled a lawsuit against Disney this week in Los Angeles Superior Court for breach of contract on the Black Widow movie. Lawyers for Johansson state that the her contract was breached when the studio choose to not to debut the film exclusively in theaters which they claim depressed ticket sales for the Avengers stand-alone movie. Her lawyers claim that the actress's salary was partly based on the film’s box office performance and that Johansson was promised an exclusive theatrical release.
 
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“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,”



Black Widow was shown in both theaters and on Disney+ at the same time. On it's opening weekend the movie reportedly brought in $80 million in North America and $78 million overseas. Because of the extra $30 premium fee Disney charged for people to watch the movie at home on Disney+, it brought in an additional $60 million there. After the opening weekend ticket sales began to drop fairly substantially and right now its brought $319 million in globally. This puts Black Widow on track to become one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies to date.

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I doubt it was an intentional breach of contract, but Disney did breach it nonetheless, it sounds like.
This bit seems here seems rather damning, because it sounds like they just blew her and her people off:

Johansson legal team said that representatives for the actress were worried that “Black Widow” would debut on Disney Plus even before coronavirus brought life to a standstill. As part of the suit, they share emails from the star’s management group that asked the studio to guarantee that “Black Widow” would premiere exclusively in cinemas. In response, Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi promised a traditional theatrical bow, while adding “We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses.”

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UPDATE: According to THR, Disney has issued a statement rejecting claims made by Johansson and her lawyers:

 

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“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. 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.

 

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On 7/29/2021 at 5:37 PM, tarot said:

so she is getting money from the D+ launch and she earned 20mil for the cinema release?

I don't know if it's just me but that would mean she is earning more then if it was just Cinema release.

 

I don't know if they mean she's getting compensation for each individual purchase of black widow on disney plus or if she got just an added check  for the whole disney plus thing flat out.it seems like she got a percentage gross of the box office from individual ticket sales so that might be the issue.

She was probably hoping that by the time it came out in cinemas that attendance would be back to full capacity.

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On 7/29/2021 at 6:37 PM, tarot said:

so she is getting money from the D+ launch and she earned 20mil for the cinema release?

From the original WSJ article, it sounds like the answer is no.

According to the complaint, Ms. Johansson’s representatives sought to renegotiate her contract after learning of the dual-release strategy for “Black Widow,” which she has said is her ninth and last Marvel movie. Disney and Marvel were unresponsive, the suit said.

I find Disney's wording very calculated here (note certain terms doing very heavy lifting): "the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation."  It's very careful to say that she could have been earning more money from Disney+ without saying at all that she is, because if she were, it seems doubtful she'd be suing.
PR does this a lot. They want it to sound to the masses like something is happening or like they've done something when it's not and they haven't. Legally they can't lie so they talk around the issue to protect their image and hope no one notices.

 

 

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Her assumption being that people would flock to the theatres to see this instead of just watching it at home.  The pandemic isn't over yet.  Hell, 1/3 of the US population either hasn't gotten the vaccine or refuses to do it because they think it causes cancer or some nonsense.  Add to that the movie...just wasn't very good.  Her story arc is over and it was destined to be 'meh' anyway--her supporting cast was far more interesting than her character and we might actually see some of them again.  

Anyway, good riddance.  I never thought her character was all that integral to the MCU and I've never liked her as an actress.  Good luck to her finding a studio that will want her for future projects now.  

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Look, I'm no particular ScarJo stan or anything, and I acknowledge that this is all "millionaires getting in petty @#$%-measuring contest slap fights with other millionaires" . . . but this is pretty cut and dry: Disney/Marvel is IN THE WRONG.  Period.
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You see, Disney has, to date, only released the D+ income numbers for the movie for the three days of the movie's opening weekend, and NOT the numbers for subsequent past two weeks since the release.  And no one actually seems to be adding ANY of the D+ income, either for that opening weekend OR the unreported revenue since then, to the box office totals.  The worldwide box office total stands at $319mil, and so that's what they're basing her back-end pay off of, the exact letter of her contract.  HOWEVER, if you add in that $60mil from the D+ opening weekend (JUST THREE DAYS) and PROBABLY another $100-120mil AT LEAST from the past two weeks of D+, that Disney just won't admit . . . you're ACTUALLY looking at a minimum of $500mil total revenue for the movie.
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This is actually a VERY obvious ploy to make the movie look like it's financially doing WAY worse than it really is . . . which in turn is a blatant example of that time-honored Hollywood tradition of "fuzzy math" to make a movie look like a failure when it was really a hit, in order to not have to pay out to the actors' or directors' "box office net percentage" contracts. (The long-standing story/rumor is that "Star Wars," the original movie, has to date, after 45 years, STILL never turned a profit).
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This is also made easier because the involvement of a streaming service run directly by the studio, where the actual individual projects' success and profitability is muddy anyway because "were subscriptions driven by THIS show or THAT show?" and ratings and subscription numbers and "no commercials but internal product placement" advertising, etc, etc.  (Again, the rumor is that Netflix execs don't actually know AT ALL which shows are successful and which aren't, and so they leave it to the almighty algorithm to just tell them if they should drop a show or keep it going.  And while Disney can count how many people paid extra to see "Black Widow," they may not necessarily be able to tell how many subscriptions were driven by the desire to see the movie or other MCU projects, specifically.)  And when your directors or writers or actors are paid based on straight revenue numbers . . . not knowing what your income ACTUALLY is (or pretending and CLAIMING to not know) is one hell of a defense, and a great way to keep your money.
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In fact, it should be noted, this is PRECISELY what was predicted - and hence, the reason for THEIR (threatened?) lawsuit - by the directors of Warner Bros. 2021 slate of movies (particularly Denis Villeneuve of "Dune") when WB said they were going to release ALL their movies streaming and in theaters simultaneously.  And it was UNIVERSALLY agreed by pretty much the ENTIRE film industry that WB was pulling an @$$hole move for the studio to weasel out of paying out the terms of their contracts.
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Just a side note: It's pretty telling that, when it's a woman, a whole bunch of guys come out of the woodwork shouting "she's rich and she sucks anyway, so screw her, LOL!"" when they were totally in support of creatives vs studio heads 8 months ago.
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So, yeah . . . on a personal level, I could care less that ScarJo is losing out on a few mil from her contract.  But on an industry level . . . this is CLEARLY a "letter of contract vs intent of pay structure vs mega-corp hoarding money" situation, and we can expect to see a LOT more of these in the future, and next time it might be a creative we care about a LOT more getting shafted for WAY more money, so maybe we shouldn't encourage it.  Just saying.

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Both sides are at fault. First the oh so progressive, finger wagging, equality championing, empowering Disney corporation put off giving BW a movie until it was more or less irrelevant, instead chosing to promote a much less popular female character. Then they didn't even bother to cook the numbers like they did Captain Superior, but chose to release it on D+ and pocket all the direct sales profits. She spent a decade as a major mainstay in the franchise awesomely portraying a character that tied much, if not all, of the MCU together. She deserved a lot more than some "look what we did for women", soapbox, girl power, pity, "don't let the door hit ya in the ayass on the way out" project.

Then enter ScarJo. It's no secret she's as WOKE as anyone else in Hollywood, but at least she kept her mouth shut as it pertained to work and didn't lash out at the fan base. Total professionalism, something a lot of people in Hollywood could learn about. Then..... Maybe the year plus delay of the movie got to her and she got frustrated, but she got a bit too mouthy right as the movie was about to release. I remember thinking "What the hell is she thinking starting all this mess right before the movie releases?". Whatever side of the road you stand on, nobody likes to be preached to. I know several people of varying political standpoints just being totally put off by her behavior.

We did watch it on Disney+. Not cuz we were too scared of the theaters but cuz my garage has a projector and screen and the popcorn and beer are cheap and it sure seats more people than that $30 woulda seated at the theater. Did that arrangement and probably thousands of similar arrangements around the world hurt her bottom line? Almost certainly. But another thing to keep in mind is that movies like Kong v. Godzilla and Mortal Kombat had no such issues and had impressive theater performance while being released without an extra charge on HBO Plus.

Does she deserve part of the Disney+ take, absolutely. Without her there would be no movie. She even towed the company line as a good little SJW at the end and they left her out on her own island for it. She deserves to get as paid (proportionately) as any "dude" in Hollywood and as any "dude" who has a movie in thn'e MCU. The movie came way too little, way too late, but that's on Disney.

Where you at Disney? Where's the proof of your equality, empowerment, fairness, holier than though, progressive stand point now? Put up or shut up. Treat your women as well as your dudes. Where's ScarJo's justice? Justice for ScarJo! Wait....what...? Oh....oh, Covid. I see. Errrr......sorry Scarjo, they got you. But then again.......GvK and MK did just fine, didn't they? I got nothin'.

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It's being reported through outlets like IGN that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is not happy with how Disney has treated actress Scarlett Johansson, who yesterday we learned had filed a lawsuit against the House With The Mouse for breach of contract on the Black Widow movie.

Reports say he was against the choice of streaming the movie on Disney+ the same day it opened in theaters, and then when the movie began to tank at the box office, tried to get Disney to make things right with Johansson.

Disney has also been taking heat from some for revealing that Johansson had already received $20 million from the movie when they issued their own statement yesterday about the lawsuit.

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So reportedly "Not Happy With Disney's Treatment of Scarlett!!" Oh, okay. Wow! Such a strong (and brave and stunning) statement. Whaddaya gonna do about it Feige? Not a damn thing. You'll put out a hash tag equivalent to the Hollywood tried and true "thoughts and prayers", something like "westandwithScarlett", and keep cashing them checks and sleep like a baby on stacks of cash tonight. "Y'know Scarlett, I wanted to pay you, I really did, but those guys.....You know how they are. Am I right?... Well, what say we have these two large, burly, muscle bound dudes go ahead and just help you find your way to that exit door, huh?" Give me a break.

Next stop, back to trying to make Eternals actually marketable.

#damagecontrol

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