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In recent months the Walt Disney Company has come under fire for hoodwinking Scarlett Johansson, inarguably one of its highest-profile stars, by releasing Black Widow (2021) simultaneously both in theaters and on Disney+. This, allegedly breached her contract and ultimately prevented her from receiving a substantial amount of profits that she was owed. As a result, the actress filed a lawsuit against Disney and broke off any professional relations with them.
The reaction from Scarlett Johansson has prompted concerns from many others in partnership with Disney to question their contracts as well as any potential unpaid profits. Now, according to Murphey’s Multiverse, dynamite directing duo Joe and Anthony Russo, aka the Russo Brothers, have stalled negotiations with Disney on any further projects due to concerns over what happened with Scarlett Johansson.
The Wall Street Journal initially reported that the Russo Brothers, who had originally wanted to take a breather and temporarily step away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, changed their minds and entered into negotiations with the cinema giant. It is rumored that they had been lured back because of an opportunity to direct a potential Secret Wars project. A project that would tie well into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s entryway into the expansive multi-verse that exits in the comics. However, those negotiations were reportedly halted when questions arose regarding what would happen should their next project be released on dual platforms.
The Russo Brothers have directed a total of four Marvel movies, working with Scarlett Johansson in flicks like Avengers: Endgame (2019), which garnered close to $900 million dollars in profit at the box office domestically and nearly topped $2 billion worldwide. Given the impressive success of the movies that the Russo Brothers have directed for Disney, it is understandable why they would have concerns over the appropriate distribution of profit. The Wall Street Journal continued to point out that following the results of the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit against Disney could set a precedent for all future movies released by Disney, and likely other companies, for how to properly compensate both parties in the event that a film is simultaneously released on dual platforms.
Even though the results of Johansson’s lawsuit could potentially have a direct effect on if and when the Russo Brothers decided to continue negotiations with Disney, it could be a while before the public is privy to any specific details. Currently, it looks like Disney’s lawyers are trying to strong-arm Scarlett Johansson to settle the dispute behind closed doors and away from the media.
The results of the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit and ultimately whether or not the Russo Brothers will continue negotiations with Disney still remains in question. However, their relationship with Disney has not stopped the pair from pursuing other projects in the meantime. The brothers directed the gritty Apple TV+ original movie Cherry that stars Tom Holland. The Russo Brothers have also just wrapped up filming The Gray Man, which tells the story of an ex-CIA agent turned rogue assassin trying to protect the children who aren’t even aware he exists. Thus, it seems as though fans can take solace in the fact that even if the directing duo does not come to a mutual agreement with Disney, they certainly do not intend to stop directing any time soon.