LOS ANGELES (AP) – Scarlett Johansson and Walt Disney Co. settled her lawsuit over the streaming release of “Black Widow” on Thursday, bringing to an early end what had started as the first major studio-star fight on recent changes in film deployment plans.
Johansson filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court two months ago, claiming that the streaming release of the Marvel movie had broken her contract and deprived her of potential revenue.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the two sides issued a joint statement committing to continue working together.
“I’m happy to have resolved our differences with Disney,” said Johansson, who played Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, in nine films dating back to 2010’s “Iron Man 2”. “I’m incredibly proud of the work we have. accomplished together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team and look forward to continuing our collaboration.
Alan Bergman, president of Disney Studios Content, said he was “happy that we were able to come to a mutual agreement.”
“We appreciate his contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects,” Bergman said.
The lawsuit said Johansson’s contract guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release, with his potential earnings tied to the film’s box office performance.
But as it has done with other recent releases since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Disney released the film simultaneously in theaters and through its Disney + streaming service for a $ 30 rental.
The rhetoric of the lawsuit and Disney’s response suggested that a long, ugly battle was ahead.
“In the months leading up to this lawsuit, Ms. Johansson gave Disney and Marvel every chance to right their wrong and keep Marvel’s promise,” the lawsuit said. “Disney intentionally induced Marvel to violate the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from taking full advantage of her market with Marvel.”
At the time, Disney said the lawsuit had “no merit”, adding that it was “particularly sad and heartbreaking in its cruel disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Disney said the amended exit plan “has dramatically improved her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $ 20 million she has received to date.”
Delayed for over a year due to COVID-19, “Black Widow” debuted at what was then a pandemic record of $ 80 million in North America and $ 78 million from international theaters on July 9 . But theaters’ receipts fell sharply thereafter. On its second publication weekend, the National Association of Theater Owners released a rare statement criticizing the strategy.
The revised hybrid exit strategies have at times led to public feuds between stars, filmmakers, and financiers who are unhappy with the potential loss of income and their lack of a voice in such strategies.
But none were as important or as public as the Johansson trial.
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