Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over Black Widow streaming release

Scarlett Johansson, star of the Marvel superhero movie Black Widow, sued the Walt Disney Co on Thursday (local time), alleging that the company breached her contract when it released the movie on streaming at the same time it debuted in theaters.

The dual release strategy reduced Johansson's compensation, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Black Widow was released on July 9 in theaters and for a US$30 charge on the Disney+ streaming service. Disney has been testing the dual release plan for some films during the coronavirus pandemic as the company tries to boost its streaming service.

Johansson's lawsuit claims that Disney wanted to steer audiences toward Disney+, "where it could keep the revenues for itself while simultaneously growing the Disney+ subscriber base, a proven way to boost Disney's stock price."

"Second, Disney wanted to substantially devalue Ms. Johansson's agreement and thereby enrich itself," the lawsuit said.

A Disney representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.