As many are now aware, Scarlett Johansson is currently suing Disney. At the center of the lawsuit is the hybrid release for Black Widow. When the actress signed her contract for the solo Marvel movie, she did so believing that the release would happen exclusively in theaters around the world. With the pandemic, releasing simultaneously on streaming services and in movie theaters is becoming more common. For the studio, this meant $30 a ticket for at-home viewers on Disney+. To Scarlett Johansson, this meant her contract should have been renegotiated to include payouts to the actress for the streaming release, something Disney wasn’t interested in doing to the actress’s satisfaction. Now, we’ve learned from one of our trusted and proven inside sources just what Scarlett Johansson’s expectations were prior to Black Widow’s change of release plans.
We’ve learned that Scarlett Johansson believes Black Widow could have made $1 billion at the box office. With that in mind, the actress wants Disney to pay out what she would have earned if the Marvel movie had earned that much at release. We were unable to learn the finer details of Johansson’s Black Widow contract, however, this may mean that the amount the actress is looking for is a considerable amount more than outlets have previously believed. It seems likely that a payout of anywhere from $50 million to $70 million, or even a little higher, is what the actress has in mind.
The Wall Street Journal reports that they have a source who has seen some of the finer details of Scarlett Johansson’s contract for Black Widow. That source believes that the streaming release and the details of her contract may have cost her $50 million. However, it wasn’t shared what the source believes the film could have earned at the box office, so it isn’t clear what those numbers were based off of.
When Scarlett Johansson’s Disney lawsuit was first made public, Disney fired back with a public statement. They included information on her payout for the film, which included an upfront salary of $20 million. The studio hinted that the star was being greedy during a pandemic and attempted to shame her, a move that many saw as sexist. This raised more questions from those in the know about Hollywood paydays. The $20 million upfront payment is a lot less than what the back-end payments would have looked like. We can make some educated guesses based on what other Marvel stars have earned.
If Black Widow had earned $1 billion at the box office, Scarlett Johansson’s payday may have been more in the ballpark of $70 million to $90 million total. We can guess at this based off of some known contracts, like that of Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man 3 passed the $1 billion mark at the box office. The star only had a $10 million upfront payment and in the end, earned $50 million total, so an additional $40 million in the backend. This means he earned four times as much in the backend as he did in his upfront payment. For Endgame, which pulled in over $2.7 billion, and which featured a larger ensemble cast, Robert Downey Jr. was paid $75 million. It is rumored that his contract had an 8% back-end deal, something that Scarlett Johansson also would have been aware of when signing her Black Widow contract.
Scarlett Johansson was paid $20 million for Black Widow upfront. She wants what the film would have earned if it had passed that $1 billion mark she assumed her movie would see at the box office. While Disney is keeping the finer details of the legal proceedings private as they move forward, it will be interesting to see if we’re able to learn exactly what Scarlett Johansson ends up getting in the end of this fight against the studio.