Blumhouse Founder Calls Scarlett Johansson “Brave” For Suing Disney & Says She’s “Fighting For All Of Talent”

When it was recently announced that Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over breach of contract due to the release strategy of “Black Widow,” a lot of people were shocked. Not only did it seem like Disney had a great relationship with the actors involved with Marvel Studios, but it wasn’t a shock that the studio released the film on Disney+ at the same time as theaters. But after box office results came in and “Black Widow” clearly underperformed, Johansson has taken legal action over money she believes she’s owed. And according to one major Hollywood producer, the actress is leading the way in a fight that extends way past “Black Widow.”

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Speaking as part of an in-depth dissection of the “Black Widow” lawsuit for THR, Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions, talked about the potential ramifications of the legal action as it extends to other talent in similar situations.

“It’s a much bigger existential fight that she’s really leading,” said Blum. “It’s a very difficult thing to do, it’s really brave to do and she’s fighting for all of talent.”

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Blum added that he expects “a ton of lawsuits” in the hope that “eventually, there will be sharing in streaming — just like there has been for 50 years in this business.”

Though it’s not explicitly named in the lawsuit, the “Black Widow” legal battle could potentially pave the way for similar action taken by other major stars with films that were released on streaming at the same time as theatrical. For those unaware, many A-list actors that sign on to star in blockbuster tentpole features include “backend” profit-sharing clauses in their contracts. These allow for someone like Scarlet Johansson to earn her $20 million fee for doing the film, plus a share of the box office revenue the film receives. When the lawsuit was announced, it was reported that Johansson could lose up to $50 million in earnings due to the way “Black Widow” was released.

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So, we’re now in a situation where Disney and Johansson are in a battle that might not just have financial implications on how Disney does business with its talent, but also with how other studios do business with actors and filmmakers. With streaming becoming more and more ubiquitous and a major part of the release strategy for distributors in Hollywood, box office ticket sales aren’t what they used to be even two years ago.

Will we see fewer “backend” deals in the future? Perhaps, actors will be demanding more money upfront if there is a chance a film goes straight to streaming? And will other actors that have seen diminished box office returns because of hybrid releasing follow Johansson’s lead? We shall see. But don’t be fooled in thinking this “Black Widow” case is just about Marvel Studios and its actors. It’s far, far bigger.