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More Lawsuits Could Be On The Horizon Following Scarlett Johansson-Disney Filing

Jeff Kotuby

The wild saga of Scarlett Johansson vs. Disney may not have taken its wildest turn yet.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, more lawsuits could be coming in the wake of the ScarJo and Disney fracas.

For the uninitiated, actress Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company in Los Angeles Superior Court last Thursday, alleging Disney breached Johansson’s contract when Black Widow was released on Disney+ through its Premier Access feature at the same time as its theatrical release. Language within Johansson’s contract promised her that the film’s release would be theater-exclusive and that she would receive a salary based on the box-office performance of the film, according to the lawsuit.

“What the streamers are betting on is that in the next three to five years, there will only be three or four [of them] left pumping content into homes, and they’ll be so powerful that they will be able to push the price down of producing, of paying talent, of paying producers, of paying writers, directors,” said Jason Blum to THR. “I personally don’t think they’ll be able to do it, but that’s what they’re betting on … On a streaming movie, [if] you’re not participating in the upside or downside, I think that compromises the creative process.” Blum tells THR he’s counting on “a ton of lawsuits” hoping that “eventually, there will be sharing in streaming — just like there has been for 50 years in this business.”

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At the center of the controversy is Disney’s current CEO Bob Chapek, whose perceived “indifference” throughout this saga has agitated those in Hollywood, especially following Disney’s official statement on the matter.

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the statement said. “The 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 on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”

However, a Disney insider tells THR that blame for the Disney statement is being placed unfairly at Chapek’s feet and “this was not a unilateral decision nor an edict” from him.

Regardless, it certainly seems like there’s more to come here — and likely won’t have a happy ending for all parties involved. There will be some collateral damage, whether that means Black Widow is the last we’ll see of Johansson in the MCU, or other MCU stars end up cutting ties with the company over Johansson’s treatment.

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