American actress Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney after it opted to release Black Widow, in which she stars, on the Disney+ streaming service.

Johansson is suing the company over a breach of contract as it put the movie onto its streaming service at the same time as the film’s cinema release.

Black Widow was released in the UK on 7 July. Internationally, it has broken a box office record during the pandemic, making $218m (£157m) during its first weekend.

But the actress is claiming that, by adding the new film onto the Disney+ streaming service, her potential earnings have been negatively affected and that it was in breach of her contract.

A suit filed on 29 July claimed: “Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.”

Johansson claims her compensation for the standalone Marvel film was “largely based” on the film’s box office success and said she “extracted a promise from Marvel that the release would be a ‘theatrical release’”.

The lawsuit continued: “Disney was well aware of this promise, but nonetheless directed Marvel to violate its pledge and instead release the Picture on the Disney+ streaming service the very same day it was released in movie theatres.”

While the film started off strongly at the box office, it saw a steep decline in its second week of release, with revenue dropping by 67 per cent compared to the first week in the US.

In response to Johnasson’s claims, Disney told The Independent: “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Disney has fully complied with Ms Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20m she has received to date.”

People on social media largely showed support for the actress, due to the principle of upholding a contract and in spite of her being hugely wealthy already.

Others criticised Disney’s “hilariously weird and inappropriate response” to Johansson’s lawsuit.

We’ll keep you up to date with what happens next.

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