The battle between Scarlett Johansson and Disney, who oversaw her many Marvel movies, is still ongoing. And it hasn’t been pretty: In late August, Disney accused her of “gamesmanship”; she in turn accused them of sexism. But it all could have been avoided had the super-company paid up. A new report by The Wall Street Journal (as picked up by IGN) claims that after she learned they meant to make Black Widow available on Disney+ PVOD, in addition to theaters, she made them an offer they apparently refused.
The new report has it that Johansson wanted $100 million for the movie, which was her long-running character’s first solo outing. That number was, the Journal says, “based on what the star would receive in a hypothetical global box-office take of $1.2 billion” ¬— i.e., about what a lot of Marvel films tend to make. This would have been on top of the $20 million she was given up-front.
That, mind you, was her team’s “starting bid.” Disney, however, never counter-offered. And in late July, Johansson made the extraordinary and possibly game-changing decision to sue one of the largest companies in the world.
Johansson’s lawsuit takes Disney to task for putting Black Widow on their family-friendly streamer, albeit for a steep fee. When released, the movie, despite a record opening for the pandemic era, wound up underperforming, grossing $182.7 million domestically and $372 million worldwide — well below most MCU titles.
One reason negotiations may have gone nowhere, the report claims, may have been mere disorganization:
The report notes that one of the reasons contract negotiations fell apart was because of uncertainty over who should lead the discussion. Disney CEO Bob Chapek was reportedly focused on pandemic-related company matters and passed the deal-making power to others in the organization, but Bob Iger and Alan Horn also reportedly stayed out of the dispute.
Disney has maintained throughout that they honored Johansson’s contract. If the lawsuit is successful, it could send shockwaves throughout an industry already grappling with a very difficult era. But it could also mean greater autonomy for actors.