Scarlett Johansson, star of Black Widow, discusses the recent lawsuit drama surrounding the release of her film on Disney+. Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marvel Studios released Black Widow; the first theatrical film from the studio.
Disney simultaneously published the film on Disney+ behind a “Premier Access” barrier to tempt apprehensive audiences; who were still afraid to make their way to a crowded cinema. The box office success of Black Widow was ultimately disappointing, with many – including Johansson herself – blaming the unanticipated Premier Access launch.
Soon after, Johansson launched a complaint against Disney; claiming that the company’s decision to release Black Widow on Disney+ breached a contract clause that stated that the picture would only be released in theatres. Johansson claimed that the studio was depriving her of compensation that would have been dependant on Black Widow’s theatrical performance by distributing the picture concurrently on Disney+.
Disney’s retaliation to Johansson’s complaints was extremely harsh, causing a slew of Hollywood advocacy groups to take her side in the case. After several weeks of highly publicised correspondences, Johansson and Disney finally reached an agreement; probably on cordial terms, considering Johansson’s connection with Disney’s next Tower of Terror picture.
The actress discussed the Black Widow lawsuit debacle in a recent interview with AP. “it’s important in general to know your own worth and stand up yourself,” she says; describing her decision to pursue the lawsuit as courageous. In the video below, Johansson expresses her full thoughts:
Johansson goes on to talk about how the entertainment industry has changed over the years. Speaking out against injustices was risky early on, according to the actress, because it may result in the whistleblower “never work again or […] be blacklisted in some way”.
However, thanks to recent organised social movements like #MeToo; those who choose to speak out in the workplace can expect more accountability and security. Conditions are still far from ideal, but they are vastly superior to those of thirty years ago.
However, given Disney’s dismissive initial responses to the Black Widow lawsuit; it’s clear that the entertainment business has a long way to go in terms of accountability. Despite the fact that Johansson is a high-profile actress; who had just finished a decade-long run in the world’s most profitable film franchise; and had the support of innumerable fans and advocacy groups behind her; she had to battle tooth and nail for her proper remuneration.
There is certainly a slew of more examples in Hollywood that are just as egregious but don’t receive the same level of attention. Workers won’t have to be multimillionaires to earn the recompense they deserve, perhaps, in the not-too-distant future.