Disney has been slammed for its “disgusting” response to Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against the studio over the release of Black Widow.

The actress claims that the movie was supposed to be exclusively released in cinemas – usually for a period of 90 days – before being launched on streaming services.

However, the film was released in cinemas and on Disney+ at the same time – which she claims is a breach of contract.

Johansson claims that her contract is based solely on box office sales and that she has lost out on millions because of Disney’s actions. Sources close to the star reckon the figure is around $50 million.

The film smashed a pandemic record at the box office, raking in $218 million in its first weekend.

A statement issued by her legal team reads: “Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.”

John Berlinski, one of the lawyers representing her, added: “This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honour its contracts.”

Included in the lawsuit against Disney is a 2019 email sent to Johansson’s legal team by Marvel’s chief counsel Dave Galluzi.

It reads: “We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses.”

In a statement, Disney has described the claims as unjustified.

It reads: “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”

Johansson has received lots of support in her decision to take action against the studio.

Journalist Tomris Laffly said: “I don’t care how rich Scarlett Johansson already is. She was f*cked over through a breach of contract and she should sue.

“You can’t really claim that you support professional women to demand what they’re worth and promised and then be like, ‘Except her, she’s doing fine as is.'”

Another Twitter user, who specialises in law, wrote: “When someone says you breached a contract and you start talking about global pandemics, you 100 per cent breached that contract.”

“Disney is worth $130 BILLION dollars and doesn’t want to pay an actress what she rightfully deserves. This statement is SO self-serving, it really disgusts me,” another added.

Another said: “Scarlett Johansson isn’t being greedy here. By releasing Black Widow on Disney+, then not counting that revenue towards her expected salary, as is done with Box Office tickets, Disney tried to screw her out of what she was owed. F*ck Disney.”

“Scarlett Johansson out here suing one of the biggest media companies in the world over $50M all while pregnant. if that ain’t hot girl sh*t idk what is,” another said.

While another user wrote: “Disney’s response is disgusting, manipulative and borderline slanderous. And I am the biggest Disney fangirl around. I can’t see this suit making it to court but I hope they end up settling with a sum Scarlett Johansson is happy with. She deserves that.”

In order to continue releasing movies during the pandemic – which has caused global lockdowns – many Hollywood studios made the decision to launch their films online.

Despite the majority of cinemas now being open, Disney and Warner Bros. have continued to release their biggest films online as part of a dual release strategy to maximise viewership.

Johansson is not the only one who is unhappy with the new method.

Last year, renowned director Christopher Nolan – who brought us The Dark Knight and Tenet – expressed his feelings about Hollywood’s new approach to releasing films.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, he said: “Warner Bros had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theatres and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.

“Their decision makes no economic sense and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction.”

Black Widow is her character’s long overdue standalone movie and is expected to be her final MCU appearance.

She said: “[I have] no plans to return as [Black Widow]. I feel really satisfied with this film.”

It was originally scheduled to be released in May 2020 but was delayed until June 2021.

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