Scarlett Johansson has an ongoing lawsuit with Marvel Studios and Disney over the release of her MCU solo film Black Widow which finally hit screens earlier this summer. While many in Hollywood have come out to stand by her, voicing their support of Johansson in the matter, much of the Marvel world has kept on the quiet side around the issue. But recently, a fellow Avenger did come on the side of Johansson. That was Elizabeth Olsen who, in an interview with Vanity Fair, definitely applauded what Scarlett Johansson was doing around the movie, its release, and the ongoing contractual fight.
When the topic of the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit came up, Elizabeth Olsen was brief but supportive of her fellow Marvel star. Olsen said, “I think she’s so tough, and literally when I read that I was like, ‘good for you Scarlett…”
This reaction by Olsen is notable because few others in the Marvel Universe have spoken out about the lawsuit, though it is easy to see why. It is a tricky spot to be in for many of the other actors and actresses considering they remain in a working relationship with the studio and have all manners of projects going at the moment. Olsen does as well, but that didn’t stop her from lending support on the matter.
The issue at hand is the lawsuit brought by Scarlett Johansson against Disney over the release of Black Widow. She and her legal team contend that the studio violated their contract with the actress around the proceeds from the box office receipts. Her contention is that when Disney and Marvel chose to release the film simultaneously as a premium offering on Disney+, that had a significant effect on the money to be made on the Johansson side of things.
In the original contract, Scarlett Johansson had with Disney regarding Black Widow there were bonuses in her contract related to the box office performance. But those numbers couldn’t be realized when folks didn’t have to go to the actual theater to see the film. Because it was offered on streaming the contention is this significantly hurt the box office performance. Disney has cited the pandemic and continued hesitation around going to brick and mortar theaters as the reason for the duel release. In response to the lawsuit, Disney had said, “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic…”
As of this writing, Black Widow had earned in the neighborhood of $370 million dollars at the box office. That number is, of course, a disappointing one for Disney which had spent upwards of $200 million in budget dollars. That is the number the contract with Scarlett Johansson would work off of. But reportedly, Disney had earned another $125 million through its digital and premium downloads, a number that wasn’t explicitly stated in any contract. New contracts are being reworked in this space with more attention being paid to how streaming dollars are delineated. And it really looks like Scarlett Johansson will be the test case for this new movement.
This lawsuit from Scarlett Johansson is still playing out. Disney has wanted to keep the negotiations and legal proceedings behind closed doors, but Johansson’s crew wants no part of that. It will be interesting to see if more Marvel stars come out in her defense.