Kasowitz Benson Torres To Represent Scarlett Johansson In Lawsuit Against Disney

Actor Scarlett Johansson claims that Disney breached her contract by releasing her standalone Marvel film Black Widow on streaming service Disney+. The suit was filed on 29 July, with Johansson represented by New-York based firm Kasowitz Benson Torres.

Johansson claims that her salary was based on the film’s box office performance, which opened strong in the United States with $80million. However, the second week saw a sharp 67% decline, the steepest second-week decline of any Marvel Cinematic Universe release. Exhibitors have blamed the simultaneous release of Black Widow on Disney+ for the drop. 

In March, Disney announced that Black Widow would go to cinemas while simultaneously being available to rent on its streaming service for $30. The studio said it saw a profit of $60 million from rentals in the film’s opening weekend. Its global haul currently sits at $319 million, a significantly below-average performance compared to other Marvel releases. 

According to Johansson’s complaint, her lawyers reached out to Disney back in 2019 with concerns about the plan to give Black Widow a multi-platform release. After the release strategy was changed, they then attempted to renegotiate Johansson’s contract. 

John Berlinski, an attorney at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, said that it is unlikely that this will be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and that, no matter what Disney may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honour its contracts with actors.

Back in May, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek defended the company’s release strategy,  stating that flexibility was important and that Disney was attempting to offer greater choice to its customers. In a recent statement, the company fired back at Johansson, claiming that there is no merit to the filing. 

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