After several months of conflict between Disney and Scarlett Johansson over the release of “Black Widow” in theaters and on Disney +, the two parties have reached an agreement. A general relief for the actress and the company, as for all of Hollywood, which has made this affair a new example of the compensation conflicts between the big studios and the talents they employ.
The Disney clash – Scarlett Johansson, reminder of the facts
It is a spectacular legal dispute that began this summer and has just come to an end. Recall of facts : in July 2021, Scarlett Johansson, filed a complaint against Disney for non-compliance with its contract relating to Black widow. The Marvel film, of which she is the star, was indeed released simultaneously in the United States and in other territories at the cinema and on the Disney + platform. While according to representatives of Scarlett Johansson, his contract included an exclusive release clause in the cinema. At stake, a significant loss of earnings for the actress, estimated at $ 50 million, part of the remuneration of which consists of bonuses linked to the performance of the film at the box office. A complaint that illustrates well the conflicts of the revolution underway in Hollywood, with a promotion of streaming that makes defenders of the cinematographic experience cringe.
If the substance of the dispute is technical and could have been dealt with discreetly, it is the aggressiveness of the various parties that will make the headlines and aggravate the situation. Indeed, Disney counter-attacks very quickly by declaring that the actress has already received a stamp of 20 million dollars for Black widow and that its attitude is misplaced, given the crisis situation resulting from the pandemic.
There is no merit in filing a complaint. The lawsuit is particularly sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific global and prolonged effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A remark that does not pass for James Sammataro, one of the representatives of the actress, who believes that this would apply just as much or more to Disney who “won millions, if not billions, during the pandemic”.
A rapid and dangerous escalation
Scarlett Johansson receives support, including that of Jamie Lee Curtis, Elizabeth Olsen and Jason Blum. As well as that of Emma Stone who initiates a similar procedure concerning the hybrid cinema – Disney + release of Cruella. Above all, she enjoys the rise of the CAA boss, major Hollywood talent agency, Bryan Lourd. He publicly declares:
Disney falsely and shamefully accuses Scarlett Johansson of being unresponsive to the COVID pandemic, in an attempt to pass her off as someone they know and whom I know she is not.
On the one hand, Scarlett Johansson insists on breach of contract constituted by simultaneous broadcasting. On the other hand, Disney ensures that compensation has already been put in place. For the entertainment giant, rather than pushing the release of Black widow, the opportunity arose to promote its Disney + platform. And thus generate new subscriptions and additional revenue with the acquisition of the film for $ 29.99. The recipes of Black widow on Disney + are estimated at $ 60 million, and $ 379 million at the global box office.
It appears, however, from information from The Hollywood Reporter, than Disney refused to advance negotiations before and after leaving Black widow July 9, while the simultaneous release was announced since March 2021. Scarlett Johansson therefore estimated until July 28 that a resolution could be found … Without result, and therefore the complaint arrived. In it, Disney’s maneuver is described “not only as an increase in the financial value of Disney +, but also as a way for Marvel to avoid paying very large box office bonuses to Scarlett Johansson. “
All’s well that ends richly
A story of big money, therefore, each party seeking to assert its rights and, in the case of Disney, have recourse to the famous “creative accounting” streaming version to maximize its profits and share as little as possible. Fortunately, the two sides finally came to an agreement. This takes the form of a compensation of $ 40 million for the 36-year-old actress, according to the sources of Deadline. This is reassuring news for the future, especially since Scarlett Johansson is due to produce and star in The Tower of Terror. It thus recorded the end of the dispute in a press release.
I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney. I am extraordinarily proud of the work that has been accomplished together over the years and have …