Everyone wants to know what’s going on with Disney and Scarlett Johansson. The beloved actress portrays Natasha Romanoff, aka the “Black Widow,” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the latest MCU movie, Black Widow, Johansson plays the character again, and to stunning effect. The movie is a brilliant entry into the wider Marvel movie world. So, with all the popularity of the movie and the franchise, why is Scarlett Johansson suing Disney? And, is Scarlet Johansson banned from Disney and Marvel in the future? Here are the answers to all your burning questions…
Why Did Scarlett Johansson Sue Disney?
Lots of fans have been asking this question: “Why did Scarlett Johansson sue Disney and Marvel?”
Another way that some fans are asking the same question: “Why is Scarlet Johannson fighting with Disney?” No matter how you put it, this is all due to the Black Widow lawsuit regarding revenue from movie theater ticket sales and streaming revenue on Disney Plus.
Now, to say “fighting” at all is clearly a more metaphorical approach to the subject. Obviously, there is no physical fighting going on here. This is a sort of “battle” of contracts and the courts.
With that in mind, you should know that there is 1 answer, but 2 ways to answer to this question: the short version and the long version.
Here are both versions of the answer to the question of the Black Widow lawsuit between Scarlett Johansson and Disney/Marvel.
The Black Widow Lawsuit Explained: Short Answer
Basically, there’s one big combo reason that actors or other film artists often sue production companies: contracts and money.
Why is Scarlett Johannson suing Disney? Because her contract does not allow for her to make money from the Disney+ streaming of Black Widow, but only for the movie theater revenue from the movie. Because Disney released the movie in both theaters and on Disney Plus at the same time, the lawsuit apparently claims that this made movie ticket sales lower than they would have been otherwise.
That is the short answer.
The Black Widow Lawsuit Explained: Longer Answer
Okay, if you want a little more detail, here goes…
In the days before Disney+ (and other streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime), movie contracts for actors and directors and other moviemakers were mostly based on movie theater ticket sales.
This is because a movie was released in theaters, the producers were able to pay out the actors (and other film artists) accordingly.
Once the movie was available for purchase or rental or anything else, the production company usually got the bulk of the revenue.
(Of course, there are exceptions to everything, so don’t take any of this as a rule that applies to every actor or director. This is simply to help people outside of Hollywood understand get a sense of the situation in broad, general terms.)
Now, things have changed quite a lot. Movies don’t just come out in theaters anymore. Streaming is the new big name in town.
And as one of the biggest streamers, Disney Plus stands to make a lot of movie money from showing their big films (like Black Widow) on the streaming platform for Marvel fans to watch from home.
The thing is… Many performance contracts still don’t take streaming platforms like Disney+ into consideration. In other words, the amount of money that big name actors like Scarlett Johansson actually get still comes mainly from movie theaters.
Now, fast forward to today, where we have a lawsuit between Scarlett Johannson and the Disney/Marvel movie studios:
- What Happened: Disney released Black Widow in movie theaters (for ticket sales) and on Disney+ (for at-home movie rentals) on the same day.
- How It Matters: As a result, the lawsuit apparently argues that the ticket sales in movie theaters is much less than it would be, because a lot of people are choosing to watch the movie from home.
- Why It’s Important: Since Scarlett Johansson doesn’t get any of the money from Disney Plus movie rental fees, the lawsuit argues that her earnings are basically being drastically lowered.
On one side, there’s the idea that the performers should be compensated fairly and accordingly. The President of SAG-AFTRA, the film actors’ union, agrees with this side, as do some major filmmakers. (Full disclosure: I am a member of SAG-AFTRA.)
On the other side, there’s the contract itself, which states that the actress will be paid according to a specific set of conditions. Some people, such as someone that has worked on the Disney legal team, are claiming that this is really all there is to it, and that the lawsuit shouldn’t be an issue:
Of course, I am not a lawyer. I do not choose sides here. I have no way of knowing how much of this is accurate, or who is in the right.
All I can do is try to help people understand what’s going on. I hope that this information is helpful to you in trying to get a handle of the situation.
Is Scarlett Johansson Banned from Disney?
Now for the second question…
Is Scarlett Johansson banned from Disney? No, Scarlett Johansson is not banned from Disney or Marvel. The movie studios had already planned not to include her character of Black Widow in any upcoming MCU films. The ongoing lawsuit does nothing to change any of that, from what we know at this time.
So, that’s basically everything you need to know.
If you are curious to know more about the Black Widow saga, sign up for my free Magic Mail to make sure you’re always In The Know with everything Marvel and Disney, and a whole lot more. Sign up for free below.
Have a marvelous day!
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Neal Tucker is one of the world’s most engaging Disney influencers, with thousands of views and responses across his blog, podcast, and social media profiles every month.
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