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Disney, Scarlett Johansson settle 'Black Widow' lawsuit

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Disney and Scarlett Johansson have come to an agreement after the actress sued the media giant over breach of contract. Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Canal breaks down the latest.

Video Transcript


AKIKO FUJITA: Scarlett Johansson and Disney have reached a settlement over a legal dispute stemming from the release of Marvel's "Black Widow." The actor sued the company back in July, accusing Disney of a breach of contract by offering the movie on Disney Plus while it was also showing in theaters. Let's bring in our very own Allie Canal, who's been following this story for us. Allie, so, you know, what does this mean for this particular lawsuit? But is there any kind of precedent this sets?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: I think it certainly does. When Scarlett Johansson filed this lawsuit back in July, I think it called into question a lot of the practices that these studios had when it came to compensating talent, especially amid the coronavirus, where a lot of these big franchise movies went to streaming.

Now we did have Warner Brothers before Disney. They said, you know what? We're going to pay out our talent. They shelled out over $200 million in order to compensate for the fact that they were going to be releasing all of their 2021 films on HBO Max, as well as in the theater.

That's something that Disney did not do, and it came around to really bite them in the butt once Scarlett Johansson filed that lawsuit. Now they did reach this settlement. The financial stipulations have not yet been released, but sources at Deadline say it's around $40 million.

I did receive statements from both Scarlett Johansson and Disney. Let's start with Scarlett. She said, quote, "I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney. I'm incredibly proud of the work we've done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come."

Now Disney had similar words of praise with Alan Bergman, Disney Studios content chairman, saying, quote, "I'm very pleased that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement with Scarlett Johansson regarding 'Black Widow.' We appreciate her contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects." Some of those upcoming projects include other Disney films, such as the upcoming "Tower of Terror" film, which is based on the popular ride at Disney World.

But overall, I do think it's going to be interesting to see what happens moving forward. Disney says that the rest of their 2021 release slate will be in theaters. Certainly, they had a lot of success when "Shang-Chi" debuted in theaters. That was giving theatrical exhibitors a lot of optimism here. But we'll have to wait and see. But I think all of these talent, actresses and actresses, all of the agents, they're going to be looking at their contracts very closely.

But this was a pretty ugly battle. I remember when this happened, Disney fired back, saying that Scarlett was being callous to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of people, a lot of Hollywood names ended up siding with Scarlett here over Disney. So it did not paint them in a very good light. But CEO Bob Chapek later said that they will be looking at all of their talent arrangements moving forward. So we'll see if there is any changes with that.