The COVID-19 pandemic affected the entire world, and the MCU is no exception.
With the fourth phase of the MCU originally intended to launch in 2020, Disney had no choice but to push back the first film that would usher in the start of MCU's next set of movies. However, it's not as if this move didn't pay off. Black Widow was the first MCU film to drop in years and it was met with both critical, as well as commercial acclaim.
While this is all well and good, not everything is right with Scarlett Johansson's relationship with Disney.
Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over the streaming release of Black Widow
It's no secret that studios and companies have had to reconsider their initial plans in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the case of Black Widow, the movie was also released online via Premier Access on Disney+, on the same day that it premiered in theaters on July 9.
Although the movie still pulled serious box office numbers in its opening weekend, theaters are attributing the sharp decline in attendance and ticket sales in subsequent weeks to Disney's decision to release the movie onto its streaming platform.
This led to Johansson filing a lawsuit against Disney. The lawsuit is grounded on the belief that the Disney+ release of Black Widow was a breach of contract as it impacted Johansson's potential earnings. Less than a day after the reports of Johansson's lawsuit against Disney emerged, Disney issued a statement, which The New York Times reported, Brooks Barnes, shared on Twitter.
Disney gives a "no merit whatsoever" response to Johansson's pay lawsuit and calls it "sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic."
— Brooks Barnes (@brooksbarnesNYT) July 29, 2021
As per Disney's response, which you can read above, Johansson's lawsuit has "no merit whatsoever". The studio added that it adhered to Johannson's contract and denied any claims that the Disney+ release of Black Widow harmed the earnings of the 36-year-old actress. Disney explained that Johannson earned more as a result of the Disney+ release of Black Widow, contrary to what the lawsuit is claiming.
It's worth noting that Black Widow had combined earnings of $215 million in its opening weekend. This makes it one of the highest-grossing MCU films of all time.
Considering the success of Black Widow, it's surprising that this lawsuit even came up. Despite being caught blindsided, Disney does not intend to hold back, judging by its statement in response.
The clear nature of its words suggests that Disney did nothing wrong as far as Johansson's contract with Black Widow goes. This should also put an end to all the talks that Johansson and her character, Natasha Romanoff, will return to the MCU sometime in the future.
With such a public spat between Johansson and Disney, we doubt that Disney would welcome Johansson back to the MCU too, regardless of her significance.
It's just unfortunate that Johansson's time in the MCU ended on such a sour note.