Scarlett Johansson settles lawsuit with Disney

As you may recall, back in March Disney announced that it was shifting its release date for Marvel’s Black Widow and making it available same day on Disney Plus. The film was released simultaneously on July 9 and it did good but not spectacular business, making $180 million domestically over it’s entire theatrical run. It made just shy of $200 million internationally for a total of $378 million worldwide.

Those are numbers a lot of producers would kill for but it put Black Widow right about where the original Thor and Captain America films did back when Marvel was just getting started a decade ago. Part of the difference may have been the pandemic but Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney arguing, not unreasonably, that the decision to make the film available on Disney Plus put a dent in the box office numbers. She filed the lawsuit at the end of July.

According to her lawsuit, Johansson’s reps had tried to renegotiate her contract when it became clear that Disney might be considering a Disney Plus release of the film. In fact there was an email in which a Disney exec said renegotiation would be necessary if the film’s release plan was changed.

According to the complaint, Ms. Johansson’s representatives sought to renegotiate her contract after learning of the dual-release strategy for “Black Widow,” which she has said is her ninth and last Marvel movie. Disney and Marvel were unresponsive, the suit said.

In a March 2019 email included in the suit, Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi said the release would be according to a traditional theatrical model, adding, “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.”

But when it came time to renegotiate, Disney gave Johansson the brush off. When her lawsuit was filed, the company revealed she’d been paid $20 million for the film and called her “callous” for demanding more. Today, Variety reported she has now settled that lawsuit and everyone is claiming to be very happy about it.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Johansson had sought a $50 million payout from the studio.

“I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney,” Johansson said in a statement on Thursday. “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.”…

“I’m very pleased that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement with Scarlett Johansson regarding ‘Black Widow,’” [Disney’s Alan Bergman] said in a statement. “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.’”

It’s the first I’ve heard of Tower of Terror. I guess this is a continuation of Disney’s plan to turn popular rides into films. They did it with the Pirate movies and more recently with Jungle Cruise, now they’re doing a film based on a ride which was based on the Twilight Zone:

Development on Tower of Terror continues after Scarlett Johansson and Disney have come to a settlement. The Tower of Terror opened in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1994, with a Twilight Zone theme, and became such a massive hit with park goers that Disney brought the ride over to Disney’s California Adventure and Walt Disney Studio Park in France. In 1997, a made-for-television movie based on the ride was produced and starred Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst.

I haven’t been to Disneyland in a while but last I heard the Tower of Terror ride had been converted into a Guardians of the Galaxy ride a few years ago.

Anyway, I guess the drama over Black Widow is over and everyone is moving on. I hope Johansson got whatever she was entitled to from Disney. Marvel has been a cash cow so it’s pretty sad to see Disney expecting Johansson to essentially foot the bill for their promotion of Disney Plus.

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David Strom 12:31 PM on November 28, 2022
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