Scarlett Johansson isn't the only one upset about Disney's Black Widow release. The actress on Thursday filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging Disney breached her contract by releasing Black Widow on Disney+ at the same time it hit theaters on July 9, something that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was reportedly against.
In his Thursday newsletter covering the Disney/Johansson drama, Matthew Belloni said "Feige is pissed" over the summer blockbuster's release. Rather than releasing exclusively in theaters, Disney announced in March that amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Black Widow would premiere simultaneously on the studio's subscription-based streaming service for a premium $30 price. According to Johansson's lawsuit, the move depressed ticket sales for the film, and much of her compensation was tied to the box office performance. A "company man, and not prone to corporate showdowns or shouting matches," Feige reportedly "lobbied Disney against the day-and-date plan for Black Widow, preferring the big screen exclusivity and not wanting to upset his talent." Following the movie's release, and as it became clear that Black Widow would become one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies of all time, Belloni said Feige "wanted Disney to make this right with her." Belloni even seemed to suggest that the controversy could cause Feige, who is said to be "angry and embarrassed," to make some pretty big moves.
"I won't suggest Feige would leave Marvel over this, but back in 2019, when he was bristling over the erratic behavior of Marvel boss Ike Perlmutter, Feige made it clear his future at the company was at stake, according to a source familiar with his actions," he noted. "Disney's Alan Horn soon recognized the threat and moved Feige out from under Ike. What will Kevin (and his lawyer, Skip Brittenham) do now that his wishes were ignored, his treasured theatrical exclusives are threatened, and his parent company is now a defendant in a lawsuit alleging it screwed over one of his biggest stars That DC Comics library has probably never looked more attractive."
At this time, Feige has not publicly addressed the legal drama. In her lawsuit, Johansson, who has starred as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow since 2010's Iron Man 2, 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." Addressing the lawsuit, a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said "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." The statement added that "Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson's contract."