Disney settles breach of contract lawsuit with Scarlett Johansson

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The public spat between Disney and Scarlett Johansson ends with a private settlement, with studios across Hollywood most likely breathing a sigh of relief.

In predictable fashion, Disney has elected to settle out of court in its ongoing dispute with Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson, regarding her claims that the studio breached the terms of her contract.

The matter was focused on Johansson’s contract for Black Widow, which she claims Disney reneged on when it elected to give the film a dual release, both in cinemas and on Disney+. This in turn negatively affected the actor’s backend deal for the film, and Johansson was therefore taking Disney to court for what she alleged was a breach of contract. The case was due to be heard in March of last year.

According to reports last month, when Disney made the choice to plump for a dual release in cinemas and on its streaming platform, Johansson tried to renegotiate her contract so she would be paid what she was projected to originally earn, and that figure came to $100m, including a $20m upfront salary. Whether Disney has ultimately been forced to plump up that kind of cash will of course, remain undisclosed. But however much it has cost it, the damage to its reputation has to be taken into account too, given that the studio normally deal with such matters behind closed doors.

Disney, along with every major studio, have perhaps dodged the biggest bullet however, by not going to court. Johansson’s suit would have likely acted as a test case, allowing every other creator whose backend deal was affected by shifting release strategies to also take legal action, which could have collectively cost the studios a lot more than one payout to a single actor.

To what extent Disney works with Johansson again beyond the planned Tower Of Terror (which she is producing) remains to be seen, but for now at least, this story seems to have come to a conclusion that suits all parties involved.

The Hollywood Reporter

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