However, after her solo flick Black Widow took a serious hit at the box office, there was a rift in the Scarlett-Disney partnership. Scarlett Johansson sued Disney, but new reports indicate the air has cleared. Here's everything we know about the lawsuit and its resolution.
On July 29, 2021, Scarlett filed a lawsuit against Disney's Marvel Entertainment.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney's Marvel Entertainment in Los Angeles Superior Court. In the suit, she alleged that Disney breached her contract when Black Widow was released on Disney Plus in addition to being released in theaters. Scarlett's contract revolved around an exclusive theatrical release, and her salary was dictated by the box office performance, not the streaming performance.
Black Widow's second week at the box office took a significant hit thanks to Disney Plus's streaming, and it slid down 67 percent from its opening weekend. This disastrous decline was the worst drop of any Marvel movie since Disney acquired Marvel in 2009. Black Widow's performance disappointed the company and, it seems, Ms. Johansson.
The suit read, "Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel." Another part of the suit mentions that, much like many other Hollywood studios navigating theatrical releases during the pandemic, Scarlett attempted to renegotiate her contract after learning Disney would release Black Widow on Disney Plus.
The suit stated that Disney and Marvel were unresponsive to her team's attempts to renegotiate. The Wall Street Journal also alleged that the loss Scarlett was facing amounted to more than $50 million. Before the pandemic, Scarlett's team was concerned about Black Widow ending up on Disney Plus, but Disney executives at the time assured her that wouldn't be the case.
A March 2019 email included in the lawsuit featured remarks by Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi, who told Scarlett's team, "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."
Much to fans' dismay, Disney had been hesitant to release Black Widow simultaneously in theaters and to Disney Plus but eventually caved and announced in March 2021 that Black Widow would be dually released. The resulting figures included an $80 million opening in the U.S. and Canada and an additional $60 million in streaming the first weekend. Despite ticket sales at $319 million globally, Black Widow is one of Marvel's lowest-grossing films, thanks to streaming.
On Sept. 30, 2021, Scarlett Johansson and Disney settled their explosive lawsuit.
After a public legal battle, it appears that Scarlett and Disney have put their differences aside and settled the lawsuit. The Hollywood Reporter notes that although the lawsuit has been settled, the details have not been disclosed.
A statement provided by Scarlett reads, "I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney. I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come."
Similarly, Disney Studios chairman Alan Bergman said, “I’m very pleased that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement with Scarlett Johansson regarding Black Widow. We appreciate her contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects, including Disney’s Tower of Terror."
While the outcome was uncertain before, it sounds like this lawsuit has a happy ending. Black Widow is currently streaming with Disney Premier Access on Disney Plus.