It wasn't long after the release of Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ that actress Scarlett Johansson took her disagreement with The Walt Disney Company to court, suing the distributor of Marvel Studios' Phase Four feature film for breach of contract and eager to recover her owed payments. In the time since then fellow Marvel actors like Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen, and even Jamie Lee Curtis for good measure, have sounded off on the issue. Now one of Johansson's co-stars from Black Widow has spoken up about it with O-T Fagbenle bringing it all back to Earth for some fresh perspective.
"I'm not the most informed on this thing so I would love to talk in some detail about it but I just don't know," Fagbenle told The AP when asked about Johansson's lawsuit. "Ultimately I do believe that all workers should get paid fairly, and to be honest the workers I think about most are those who are on minimum wage, those who are working in sweat shops to provide our clothes, that's really my main concern when I think about unfair labor."
"All workers should get paid fairly." Scarlett Johansson's "Black Widow" co-star O-T Fagbenle weighs in on the legal fight over her compensation for the Marvel film. pic.twitter.com/4utaobI26m— AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) September 22, 2021
Fagbenle's response may not win him any friends above the line but considering the looming possibility of a strike from the IATSE, the union for stage and set workers, he might have just made sure he'll have some pals on his next project.
The crux of Johansson's legal argument is that her deal with Marvel Studios and Disney was made pre-COVID-19 times and had no provision within it for an initial release in anything but movie theaters; Black Widow ended up debuting in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access simultaneously. That in mind there's perhaps an argument to be made that Johansson's compensation relative to Black Widow's box office success was hampered by the fact that some audiences chose to stream it at home rather than in theaters (with the Disney+ numbers perhaps not tied to the grosses from theatrical exhibition).
As of this writing Black Widow has grossed over $377 million globally, much lower than the thresholds in Johansson's contract that would have secured her additional payments. A report from The Wall Street Journal about the lawsuit noted that sources close to the actress projected that releasing the film on Disney+ at the same time could cost her "more than $50 million."
Earlier this week came news from Disney CEO Bob Chapek who revealed that the studio is now resetting their talent deals in the wake of the lawsuit.