Over the past year or so, the film industry has been forced to adapt to the myriad of disruptions caused by COVID-19 in a number of ways that stray from the traditional status quo. This has been most noticeable in the release and distribution of films, which has been significantly hampered by the quarantine restrictions put in place early last year. Some projects were forced to delay their release until the pandemic subsided, while others were forced to utilize alternative means that would allow audiences to see new films from the comfort of their home. Disney opted for the latter for the most part, releasing new projects through their streaming platform Disney+ since the pandemic began. This has seemingly caused some turmoil for them however, with actress Scarlett Johannson moving forward with a lawsuit against the media empire over the recent release of the film Black Widow.
Black Widow was released almost three weeks ago now, and raked in over $40 million in box office receipts its first weekend in theaters. The Avengers spin-off project was also released through the streaming platform Disney+, allowing subscribers to watch the film from the comfort of their home instead of a movie theater. This has left the film’s star Scarlett Johannson distraught however, who is now suing Disney as she claims that her contract for the solo film stipulated for an exclusive theatrical release. It has also been noted that her compensation was based in part upon the film’s box office performance, which was obviously restricted as a result of this release strategy.
This could have serious implications for both Disney and the film industry as they explore alternative means of distribution for new projects. More and more films are now being released via streaming platforms as well as theaters to meet the demands of consumers who are not comfortable going to a theater, however this lawsuit could potentially bring a stop to that. This additionally highlights the adjustments Hollywood and the movie industry will have to make if studios continue to utilize this strategy, potentially signaling a new era of film production as a result. It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit shakes out and if Disney is held accountable here.