Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over Black Widow streaming release

Actress Scarlett Johansson in her role as Black Widow.
Actress Scarlett Johansson in her role as Black Widow.PHOTO: MARVEL STUDIOS

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Scarlett Johansson, star of the Marvel superhero movie Black Widow, sued the Walt Disney company on Thursday (July 29), alleging that it breached her contract when it released the movie on streaming at the same time it debuted in theatres.

The dual release strategy reduced Johansson's compensation, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Black Widow was released on July 9 in theatres and for a US$30 (S$40) charge on the Disney+ streaming service.

Disney has been testing the dual release plan for some films during the coronavirus pandemic as the company tries to boost its streaming service.

Johansson's lawsuit claims that Disney wanted to steer audiences towards Disney+, "where it could keep the revenues for itself while simultaneously growing the Disney+ subscriber base, a proven way to boost Disney's stock price."

"Second, Disney wanted to substantially devalue Ms Johansson's agreement and thereby enrich itself," the lawsuit said.

Disney later said there was "no merit" in Johansson's claims.

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” a Disney spokesman said in a statement.

“Disney has fully complied with Ms Johansson’s contract.”