By Hannatu Sadiq
American multinational mass media conglomerate, Disney will face legal battles for streaming marvel star, Scarlet Johansson’s superhero film Black Widow at the same time as its cinema release.
The film set a box office record for the Covid-19 pandemic, grossing $218m (£157m) in its first weekend.
Ms Johansson argues that she was deprived of potential earnings after box office receipts fell sharply. Sources close to the actor, whose salary was based on the box office performance of the film, project that she lost $50m, according to media reports.
In response, Disney said it had “fully complied” with her contract and that her case had “no merit whatsoever”.
Ms Johansson said she was promised by Marvel Studios, which is owned by Disney, that Black Widow would be a “theatrical release” meaning a “window” of time would pass before it would be streamed – a period that has traditionally lasted 90 days.
A number of Hollywood studios had decided to bypass cinemas, during the pandemic, many of which had been closed, and release their films online instead.
Now that most cinemas have reopened, Disney, along with fellow giant Warner Bros, has chosen to maintain a dual release strategy for their major films.
Black Widow made $80m in ticket sales in North America and $78m internationally, plus at least $60m in Disney+ Premier Access rentals. All on its first weekend.
Disney counter claimed that the dual release strategy had “significantly enhanced the star’s ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20m she has received to date”.
In a strongly worded statement, it said her legal action was “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic”.