Did the success of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings give Scarlett Johansson leverage in her Black Widow lawsuit against Disney? According to industry insider Matthew Belloni, it very well could’ve given the actress the edge when it came to settling the lawsuit.
Belloni states, via Puck News, that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ strong performance at the box office, partly due to the film releasing exclusively in theaters rather than having a hybrid streaming release, backed up Johannon’s claims that she lost out on profits due to Black Widow being released simultaneously in theaters and on streaming via their Disney+ Premier Access program. Shang-Chi has grossed over $200 million domestically, the first film of the pandemic era to do so, while Black Widow has grossed $183 million on the domestic front. The argument, according to Belloni, is that if a new character with less brand recognition can put butts in the seats in such a big way, then an established character, such as Johansson’s Black Widow finally getting her much-anticipated solo adventure, should hypothetically perform better at the box office. You can check out more of Belloni’s comments below:
“It didn’t help Disney’s overall cause that Shang-Chi, a ‘lesser’ Marvel title starring a largely unknown actor that was released over the usually dormant Labor Day weekend, has stormed past Black Widow at the box office. The difference? Shang-Chi was a theatrical exclusive, of course. So that’s a point for Johansson.”
As you probably remember, Johansson filed a suit that claimed that the studio sacrificed the film’s box office potential in order to grow its fledgling Disney+ streaming service. Disney countered that Johansson was paid $20 million for the film. In her complaint, Johansson said the Marvel tentpole had been guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release when she signed her deal. Johansson alleged that her contract was breached when the film was simultaneously released on Disney+.
Black Widow, which has earned $387 million at the worldwide box office to date, debuted at the same time in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access for an additional $30. In what was viewed by rival studio executives as a major miscalculation, Disney then boasted about the film earning $60 million during its opening weekend on the streaming platform. These are figures that the studio never made public before and this opened the door for a fierce clash between the star and the studio. As a star and producer on the project, Johansson was guaranteed a piece of the box office profits and it was clear that her deal didn’t factor in earnings the film would be earning via streaming on Disney+. While details of the settlement weren’t disclosed, “Deadline“ and their sources indicate that Johansson is likely to see $40 million more in her pocket when this is all said and done.
Do YOU think the success of Shang-Chi gave Johansson some leverage in her Black Widow lawsuit against Disney?