The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be getting major updates on an almost-daily basis, including some tied to Black Widow, which finally debuted earlier this month after a series of COVID-19 delays. The film was released both in theaters and through Disney+'s Premier Access tier, something that has sparked its own conversation this week, upon news that franchise star Scarlett Johansson will be suing the company over the decision. The move, which alleges that Johansson's initial contract was breached once the film no longer received a "theatrical wide release", has been buzzed about for a lot of different reasons — and a new report might indicate one side of it. A new What I'm Hearing... newsletter from former The Hollywood Reporter editor Matthew Belloni breaks down the Black Widow lawsuit, and claims that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is also unhappy about the film's hybrid release, something that was previously teased in reports earlier this year.
"[Feige is] a company man, and not prone to corporate showdowns or shouting matches. But I'm told he's angry and embarrassed," Belloni's newsletter reads in part. "He lobbied Disney against the day-and-date plan for Black Widow, preferring the big screen exclusivity and not wanting to upset his talent. And then when the sh-t hit the fan, the movie started tanking, and Johansson's team threatened litigation, he wanted Disney to make this right with her. (Disney declined to comment on Feige.)"
This comes after Disney released a statement on Thursday in response to Johansson's lawsuit, arguing that the ordeal is "especially sad and distressing" amid the current box office circumstances.
"There is no merit whatsoever to this filing," Disney's statement reads. "The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson's contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date."
"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," Johansson's legal team argued.
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