Scarlett Johansson and Disney Finally Settle their Lawsuit

Kira Camacho, Staff Writer

Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney was major news in July. Johansson’s paycheck from Black Widow was largely collected from the theatrical release of the film. By releasing the film on Disney+, Disney reduced Johansson’s paycheck. Much attention was attracted to the case, and at times it even got ugly. Johansson first filed the lawsuit against Disney in Los Angeles Superior Court. Recently, this case was resolved. 

The legal troubles started due to the terms and conditions of Johansson’s contract. 

 “Disney breached her contract by releasing the highly anticipated superhero film ‘Black Widow’ on its streaming service, Disney+,” explained Frank Pallotta

Johansson’s paycheck largely came from the movie’s box office haul. By releasing Black Widow on Disney+ at the same time it was released in theaters, Johansson’s income was greatly reduced.

“To maximize these receipts, and thereby protect her financial interests, Ms. Johansson extracted a promise from Marvel that the release of the picture would be a ‘theatrical release,” Johansson’s suit stated. 

A “theatrical release” means that the movie would be released to the public through the theater distribution system. So, consumers would only be able to see the film in theaters. When a film is released on a streaming service, consumers are more likely to watch it on the platform, in the comfort of their homes. Giving consumers the option of where to watch took away from Johansson’s paycheck. 

“My favorite movie of Scarlett Johansson is Jojo Rabbit where she played Jojo’s Mom, Rosie Betzler,” said AHS junior Alice Young. “Also, I think Scarlett Johanson has the right to sue Disney. Releasing Black Widow on Disney+ while it’s still in theatres and without giving her the revenue from sales on Disney Plus would affect the amount of money she made for playing her part.”

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” Disney claimed, firing back at Johansson’s statement. “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This response was especially surprising for Disney. Their especially aggressive reply showed a callous side of the corporate company. Disney even publicly revealed that Johansson had already been paid $20 million for the film. 

Fortunately, the President of the Screen Actors Guild came to Johansson’s side, as did actress Elizabeth Olsen. 

“Actors must be compensated for their work according to their contracts,” Gabrielle Carteris, actress and Union leader, said. “Scarlett Johansson is shining a white-hot spotlight on the improper shifts in compensation that companies are attempting to slip by talent as distribution models change.”

Carteris pointed out the “gendered tone” of Disney’s response. She explained how Disney’s press statements victimized women. 

“Women are not ‘callous’ when they stand up and fight for fair pay – they are leaders and champions for economic justice,” Carteris stated. “Women have been victimized by pay inequity for decades, and they have been further victimized by comments like those in Disney’s press statements. These sorts of attacks have no place in our society and SAG-AFTRA will continue to defend our members from all forms of bias.”

After much tension and attention, Johansson and Disney finally settled the lawsuit. Both Disney and Johansson released statements. 

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

Disney’s ‘Tower of Terror’ is a new movie based on the Disneyland Park attraction, Tower of Terror. Johansson will take up producing duties along with Jonathan Lia, and Josh Cooley will be writing the screenplay. 

“I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney,” Johansson said in her statement. “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.” 

Other than these statements, no other details from the settlement were released. The public doesn’t know how much Johansson was paid to drop the lawsuit, or what agreement Disney and the actress settled on.