Black Widow‘s long-awaited release has been somewhat overshadowed by the legal brouhaha surrounding it debuting on Disney Plus. Soon after it became apparent that it’d disappoint at the box office, Johansson sued Disney for breach of contract, arguing that VOD cut the legs out from under the film’s box office haul.
This release strategy stung because her back-end deal was based on theatrical performance, and she could have missed out on as much as $70 million dollars.
Many have pointed out that the already fabulously rich Johansson isn’t the most sympathetic litigant, though others argue that a worker is a worker. After all, no matter how big an actor, you’re still small fry when taking on the Mouse House.
But Johansson’s Black Widow co-star O-T Fagbenle has one of the best perspectives on it so far. In a recent interview with AP, he was asked for his opinion and said:
“I’m not the most informed on this thing so I would love to talk in some detail about it but I just don’t know. Ultimately I do believe that all workers should get paid fairly, and to be honest the workers I think about most are those who are on minimum wage, those who are working in sweat shops to provide our clothes, that’s really my main concern when I think about unfair labor.”
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It’s a fair point, though Johansson being one of the rare people who can flex a little legal muscle in Disney’s direction should make this an interesting test case. It’s notable that the studio appears to have abandoned any future plans for their blockbusters to premiere online, with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Spider-Man: No Way Home all confirmed for an exclusive theatrical release with VOD following a minimum of 45 days later.
I suspect we’ll never know whether Johansson will truly triumph over Mickey’s intimidating legal army. My bet is that Disney and Johansson will hash out a settlement behind closed doors, as going to court would expose information about Disney Plus VOD financials that execs would prefer to keep away from their streaming competitors.
Johansson’s days as the MCU’s Black Widow are most certainly done now, though Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova will reappear in Hawkeye on Disney Plus later this year.