Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit against Disney has had a lot of her peers talking, and now the actress's Avengers: Infinity War co-star Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken out. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Cumberbatch — who plays Doctor Stephen Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — was asked about the situation and he offered his thoughts. "It's sad what's going on between the lawyers," Cumberbatch said. "Just the verbiage and the accusations of, 'Put it in a global pandemic context.' The whole thing's just a bit of a mess."
Back in July, it was reported that Johansson is suing Disney from breach of contract, stemming from the company choosing to release Black Widow in Disney+, at the same time as its theatrical debut. Her legal team argues that this changed the nature of the way the film made money, which had an impact on her income from the project. "It's a new paradigm, and it's a very complex one," Cumberbatch added. "No one saw this coming, and no one should use hindsight to say, 'Well, it should have been done.' That was the first of these films that was going to get a cinematic release during the pandemic and got stalled and stalled and stalled. It's very new territory."
The (actually quite lovely) Benedict Cumberbatch discusses staying cruel for Jane Campion's #ThePoweroftheDog, the time Doctor Strange told off Iron Man and his onslaught of new projects: https://t.co/a1fGRzCXwk pic.twitter.com/UnUAzqVVs9— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 8, 2021
In the lawsuit, Johansson's attorneys claim that the contract she had with Disney's Marvel Entertainment guaranteed that Black Widow would exclusively be released in movie theaters. They argue this impacted her salary, as it depended, largely, on how well the film did at the box office. "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," the suit reads, in part. Notably, Box Office Mojo data indicates that Disney earned $372.3 million worldwide on Black Widow. The Disney+ "premiere access" rentals made up roughly $67 million.
"It's no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company's stock price - and that it's hiding behind COVID-19 as a pretext to do so," Johansson's attorney John Berlinski said in a statement which was obtained by People. "But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we look forward to proving as much in court." He added, "This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts."