(Bloomberg) – Walt Disney Co. said it took in $125 million in online revenue from ‘Black Widow’ and said the pic, which prompted a lawsuit from star Scarlett Johansson, topped other Marvel movies .
New figures emerged Friday in court papers in which Disney requested that Johansson’s lawsuit be referred to arbitration in New York rather than conducted in a civil trial in Los Angeles, as the actress is seeking.
Johansson sued Disney last month saying she was scammed because the company released the film simultaneously in theaters and online. Johansson said his compensation was heavily dependent on bonuses based on theater ticket sales and that online release ate away at that revenue.
Disney hit back, saying the actress had already been paid $20 million for her work in the film. In one of the documents filed Friday, the company said it had offered to include online earnings in its bonus calculations, although it was not required to do so.
“Why is Disney so afraid to argue this case in public?” Johansson’s attorney, John Berlinski, said in an emailed statement on Saturday. “Because he knows Marvel’s promises to give Black Widow a typical theatrical release ‘like her other films’ had everything to do with ensuring that Disney wouldn’t cannibalize box office revenue in order to increase Disney+ subscriptions. Yet that is exactly what happened – and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence to prove it.”
The case has been closely watched in Hollywood, as movie studios increasingly release movies online earlier, and those movies are often likely to appear on streaming services owned by the same parent companies as the studios. This potentially puts them at odds with actors and other talent who are sometimes paid based on revenue generated from movies.
“Black Widow,” which featured Johansson reprising her role as Natasha Romanoff, a Russian assassin-turned-superhero, was released on July 9. It grossed $367 million in theaters worldwide. Disney offered fans the option to watch the film at home through its Disney+ streaming service for an additional $30.
Domestic opening weekend revenue, with theaters and online combined, was better for ‘Black Widow’ than for other Marvel films, including ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ the company said in one of the filings.
Opening weekend digital revenue was $67 million worldwide, including $55 million from domestic customers.
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