Disney slammed for accusing Scarlett Johansson of 'callous disregard' for lawsuit amid pandemic

Johansson has alleged that she lost out on more than $50 million as the movie was released on Disney+ at the same time it debuted in theaters

                            Disney slammed for accusing Scarlett Johansson of 'callous disregard' for lawsuit amid pandemic
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow (IMDb)

Disney received a major backlash after slamming Scarlett Johansson over her $50million Black Widow lawsuit as "sad and distressing" and arguing it has "no merit whatsoever."

Johansson alleged in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, July 29, that she lost out on more than $50 million because the movie was released on the Disney's proprietary streaming service Disney+ at the same time it debuted in theaters, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Avengers star said she had been guaranteed that 'Black Widow' would have an exclusive theatrical release, considering the bulk of her salary was based on box office earning of the movie, the Daily Mail reported.


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Disney previously revealed that 'Black Widow' took in $60 million on the streaming platform Disney+ on the opening weekend alone. The film reportedly set a pandemic-era record by bringing in $218 million worldwide over the opening weekend earlier this month, including streaming revenues, $80 million from the domestic box office, and $78 million internationally.

Nonetheless, the movie faced an unprecedented drop in box-office returns after the opening weekend. This prompted some analysts to wonder whether the Disney+ streaming release was taking a major chunk out of ticket sales, which currently stand at $319 million globally - making the film one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies of all time.

Scarlett Johansson of Marvel Studios' 'Black Widow' at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019, in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

"The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," the company said in a statement to the Daily Mail.

Disney also revealed how Johansson had already made $20 million. According to the newspaper, her reported fee for starring in 'Avengers: Infinity War' and 'Avengers: Endgame' was $15 million. "Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson's contract," the company insisted. "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."

According to Johansson, the movie's simultaneous release in both theaters and streaming service Disney+ constituted a breach of her contract and caused her to lose over $50 million. The actress filed the Thursday suit arguing she was promised an exclusive theatrical release for 'Black Widow'. "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," the suit stated. 

Scarlett Johansson attends the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Social media accused Disney of hypocrisy, with some pointing out how the entertainment giant allegedly reopened theme parks at full capacity during the pandemic. "It was, admittedly, totally irresponsible of Scarlett Johansson to reopen Disney’s theme parks at full capacity with no distancing requirements," director Jessica Ellis joked.

"It does feel a little like Disney somehow blamed Scarlett Johansson for COVID," writer Louis Peitzman tweeted.

"It's actually kind of disgusting that Disney, of all places, considering how they've treated their employees, is using COVID-19 to deflect from an issue that filmmakers have raised since streaming releases were announced. Scarlett's just the first one with the balls to adjudicate," one Twitter user wrote.

"I’m not personally a fan of Scarlett Johansson for myriad reasons but the idea that Disney, a corporation, is chastising one individual for “callous disregard” to the pandemic when they opened their theme parks in summer 2020 makes you just wanna laaaugh laugh laugh," another added.

"Disney: Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit shows "callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic... Also Disney: Races to reopen the theme parks amid a pandemic & then proceeds to lay off 28,000 employees," a third quipped.

"Cant believe Scarlett Johansson broke her nose while filming black widow and Disney doesn't want to pay her," another commented.












Meanwhile, it's also worth noting Johansson is one of the highest-paid actresses in the world and has an estimated net worth of about $165 million. Prior to 'Black Widow', her highest-paid gig was 'Ghost in the Shell' in 2017, for which she reportedly earned a whopping $17.5 million. 

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