As ‘Black Widow’ was released worldwide in July 2021, the film received a great response. But Scarlett Johansson, the superhero film’s solo star, had a lot of reasons to be unhappy with her producers, primarily over the breach of a contract. Following her lawsuit, Disney has recently responded, calling Scarlett’s lawsuit a PR stunt.
Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be in no mood for rest. Phase 4 of a slew of Marvel movies began immediately as the third phase ended. The fans had always wondered when one of the top Avengers, Black Widow, would get her own solo movie. Phase 4 of Marvel felt like a perfect opportunity to focus on Natasha a little more. The solo Black Widow film was finally released in 2021, and the fans of Scarlett Johansson rejoiced as the film went on receiving a fair share of critical acclaim. But, apparently, it’s not an all-celebratory mood inside the Marvel camp right now. Scarlett decided to take on the Disney giant head-on through a blunt lawsuit. And the entertainment giant is in no mood to let it slide and accused Scarlett of pulling a PR stunt. Let’s see what’s the matter.
- Scarlett Johansson’s Lawsuit against Disney
- Scarlett Johansson’s Lawsuit labelled as a PR stunt
The solo superhero film ‘Black Widow’ was released on July 9, 2021, tracing the solo story of Natasha Romanoff, one of the most fan-favourite members of the superhero assembles, The Avengers. While she must have been glad given the positive word of mouth around the film, she was miffed at the Disney studios for breaching their contract. As it turned out, Disney released the film on their OTT on the same day as the theatrical release, which was not a part of the original contract.
Scarlett Johansson’s Lawsuit labelled as a PR stunt
Now, for the ones who have no idea why and how it affects the actors, bigger studios like Disney and DC have a bonus system where if a film performs exceptionally well at the box office, key people involved are presented with a bonus. But releasing ‘Black Widow’ on the Disney+ OTT wasn’t the deal Scarlett had signed up for as it significantly affected the film’s box office returns, and hence, her paycheck.
One would hope that a big star such as Scarlett, filing a lawsuit, will result in a positive outcome. But that’s not the case with Disney. They have struck back at Scarlett, accusing her of pulling a PR stunt, discarding her lawsuit as meritless. For the fans of both the actor and the studio, it isn’t easy to pick one side. The contract with Scarlett was signed in 2017 when the Disney+ OTT was not even a topic of discussion. And in the last two years, more people are tuning into the OTTs to watch content. Even after theatres opened, it only seemed valid from a business point of view to also aim for a grand OTT release.
Scarlett Johansson’s Lawsuit against Disney
So when Scarlett’s team signed the contract back in 2017, they were not aware of the danger of a streaming platform snatching away a big chunk of film’s theatrical returns. The contract specifically mentioned a “wide theatrical release”. And now when Disney has apparently breached the contract, Scarlett is not quite prepared to let her guard down.
Things would have been easier if the OTT platforms didn’t play the cards too close to their chest. No OTT releases data about how a particular title performed on their platform and that causes a little trouble understanding whether a film is a success or a dud. The transparency in the box office number at least clears the air about a film’s success or failure and, hence, it decides for the big studios whether to thank their stars with a bonus check or not.
While this particular mud-slinging between Scarlett and Disney seems to be never-ending for now, it also opens another discussion about whether OTTs are killing the traditional cinemagoing experience. There is a possibility that this OTT thing is just a fad that’ll go once the world is rid of Covid, but it’s still too early to land on a conclusion.
Tell us in the comments whose side you are on in this ongoing tussle between Scarlett Johanson and Disney? Also, tell us whether you watched ‘Black Widow’ in a theatre or on Disney+?