KEY POINTS

  • Disney said Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit has no merit
  • The company also said the lawsuit is sad and distressing
  • Disney added Johansson benefits from the streaming release of her film 

Disney said Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit over the release of "Black Widow" on its streaming service has "no merit."  

Johansson made headlines Thursday after she filed a formal complaint against Disney for releasing her superhero movie on Disney+. The mass media and entertainment conglomerate has released a statement to address the issue.

"There is no merit whatsoever to this filing," Disney was quoted by Variety, as saying.

"This 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," a statement from the company obtained by Us Weekly read.

Disney did not provide more information on whether or not Johansson's contract was renegotiated so she could share in streaming rental revenue.

"Black Widow" set a pandemic-era box office record when it was released in North America, making $80 million. It earned an additional $78 million overseas and $60 million on Disney+. However, the ticket sales have steeply declined, and given that many Marvel movies top $1 billion at the worldwide box office, Johansson's film is set to become of one of the lowest-grossing releases.

"It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like ‘Black Widow’ directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company’s stock price — and that it’s hiding behind COVID-19 as a pretext to do so," John Berlinski, Johansson's lawyer, said in a statement to Variety. 

"But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we look forward to proving as much in court. This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts."

In her filing, Johansson stated that the dual release of her movie in theaters and on the streaming platform was a breach of contract. She also pointed out that the release on Disney+ allows Disney to boost its stocks and increase its number of subscribers.

“Disney’s financial disclosures make clear that the very Disney executives who orchestrated this strategy will personally benefit from their and Disney’s misconduct,” a portion of the lawsuit read.

US actress Scarlett Johansson, one of Hollywood's biggest and top-paid stars, was reportedly entitled to a percentage of box office receipts from "Black Widow US actress Scarlett Johansson, one of Hollywood's biggest and top-paid stars, was reportedly entitled to a percentage of box office receipts from "Black Widow" Photo: AFP / VALERIE MACON