‘Black Widow’ star, Scarlett Johansson, reflects on the recent lawsuit controversy surrounding her film's release on Disney+. ‘Black Widow’ was the first theatrical film from Marvel Studios to release following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a way to entice wary audiences that were still hesitant to make their way to a crowded theater, Disney concurrently released the film on Disney+ behind a "Premier Access" paywall. Black Widow's box office performance was ultimately underwhelming, with many – including Johansson herself – pointing to the unplanned Premier Access rollout as the culprit.
Johansson soon thereafter filed a lawsuit against Disney alleging that the company's decision to release ‘Black Widow’ on Disney+ violated a stipulation in her contract that ensured that the film would solely release theatrically. By releasing the film concurrently on Disney+, Johansson asserted that the studio was depriving her of bonuses that would have been contingent on Black Widow's theatrical performance. Disney responded to Johansson's grievances with an unusually hostile response, prompting many Hollywood advocacy organizations to take the actress' side on the matter. Johansson and Disney finally resolved the matter after several weeks of highly publicized correspondences, presumably on amicable terms given Johansson's involvement with Disney's upcoming ‘Tower of Terror’ film.
The actress reflected on the ‘Black Widow’ lawsuit fiasco. She considers her decision to pursue the lawsuit an act of courage, saying, "It’s important in general to know your own worth and stand up yourself."
Johansson goes on to discuss how the entertainment industry has evolved over the course of her career. The actress recalls how, early on, speaking out about injustices was a risk as it could cause the whistleblower to "never work again or [...] be blacklisted in some way." However, thanks to recent organized social movements like #MeToo, there is generally greater accountability and security in the workplace for those who choose to speak out. Conditions still are not perfect, but they are certainly better than they were thirty years ago.
That being said, considering Disney's flippant early responses toward the ‘Black Widow’ lawsuit, it is evident that the entertainment industry still has a ways to go in terms of accountability. AP