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Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over ‘Breach of Contract’ for ‘Black Widow’ Streaming Release

UPDATE 7/29 06:08 p.m. ET

Disney released a statement saying there was “no merit” to Johansson’s filing.

“This 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 onDisney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date,” the company’s comment on the lawsuit read.

Original story below: 

Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney for releasing Black Widow on its streaming service, Disney+, which she alleged was a breach of contract.

Related: Scarlett Johansson Through the Years

According to court documents obtained by Us Weekly on Thursday, July 29, Johansson, 36, claimed that the theatrical debut was undercut when Disney also offered fans the chance to stream the film online. Black Widow hit theaters on July 9 and also starts Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz.

Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over Black Widow Streaming Release
Scarlett Johansson in ‘Black Widow’. Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios

“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 legal documents stated.

Related: Actors Who Worked Together Again and Again

Disney implemented the joint theater and streaming service release amid the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdowns limited audience members’ access to the big screen. Instead, fans were given the option to watch new releases on Disney+, which Johansson’s legal team claimed went against the promise of box office exclusivity and affected her profit.

“This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts,” the Avengers star’s attorney, John Berlinski, argued.

Earlier this month, Johansson confirmed that she would not be returning for any more Marvel movies after her character Natasha Romanoff’s origin story was explored in Black Widow.

Related: Marvel Stars’ Dating Histories: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and More

“Honestly, I feel like it’s always, it feels great to leave a party when it’s still raging and I think that this film feels very much like it’s alive and fresh and powerful and I feel really pleased with it,” the New York native told ComicBook. “I feel really happy with the work that we’ve done for this decade of time and, you know, it’s bittersweet to say, ‘Goodbye,’ but if you love something, you need to set it free!”

Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over Black Widow Streaming Release
Scarlett Johansson in ‘Black Widow’. Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios

Natasha Romanoff’s death was previously revealed in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame when she sacrificed her life to secure the Soul Stone and save Hawekye (Jeremy Renner).

Even though Johansson said that she “has no plans to return” to the franchise, she wasn’t opposed to working on more projects with Marvel in the future.

“I would love to be able to continue to collaborate with Marvel in other ways because I think there’s just an incredible wealth of stories there. Re-imagining this genre is something that I find very interesting,” the Marriage Story star explained in an interview with Fatherly earlier this month.

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