- The New Streaming Nemesis: A Look at the Disney/Scarlett Johansson Suit – read now
- Aiding Afghan Refugees – learn more
The New Streaming Nemesis: A Look at the Disney/Scarlett Johansson Suit
Previously, the battle raged between musical artists and music streaming services on the frontier of technology and how we consume media. Of course, artists want to ensure they are justly compensated for the work they produce. In fact, some well-known artists even refused to stream their music on such services for a long time, but now it is commonplace.
Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney regarding the release of the film Black Widow highlights how some of this friction is now spilling over into the film world. The suit has been talked about a lot, but let us take a look at it from legal side.
At its core, the dispute centers around the provisions of Johansson’s contract with Marvel for Black Widow. Her contract included the following provision:
Lender shall furnish Producer the services of Artist to perform the role of ‘Black Widow’ / ‘Natasha Romanova’ in the theatrical motion picture currently entitled ‘Black Widow’ (‘Picture’). For the avoidance of doubt, if Producer in its sole discretion determines to release the Picture, then such release shall be a wide theatrical release of the Picture (i.e., no less than 1,500 screens).
Johansson claims that Disney, Marvel’s parent company, intentionally interfered with her contractual relations with Marvel by simultaneously releasing Black Widow on Disney+ with its release in theaters, despite its knowledge of Johansson’s contract that called for a “wide theatrical release.” She claims that this move by Disney reduced box office receipts and other deferred compensation that would have been realized by her if the film was released only in theaters.
In her second count, Johansson alleges that Disney induced Marvel to breach its contract with her, essentially by exercising its influence over Marvel to realize financial benefit for itself as Disney+ is wholly-owned by Disney who would realize the benefits of the Premier Access fees and new subscribers who would join the service to see the movie.
Disney has claimed that it satisfied Johansson’s contractual provision in that Black Widow debuted on more than 30,000 screens in July 2021. They have also repeatedly invoked the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affects the way people have been consuming movies, with many people hesitant to return to theaters. Therefore, releasing the film simultaneously on Disney+ was just another way to expand the reach of the film. Black Widow made $158 million on its opening weekend, a solid number for a film opening during the pandemic.
As one may imagine, feelings are strong on both sides of this case, and it will certainly be one worth following. Regardless of how this turns out, I am sure you will see artists accounting for the possibility of simultaneous streaming releases in future film contracts to ensure that they are protected and can maximize potential revenues from that streaming.
Aiding Afghan Refugees
News Alert from the desks of the Immigration Law Group
More states and military bases are opening their doors to Afghan refugees as they seek asylum from Taliban rule. Maryland, Virginia and D.C. are among the areas where flights are touching down, with temporary housing options for those on board.
With the need for evacuation assistance at a high volume and under a tight timeline, the U.S. has made resources available for those seeking safe space on its soil.
The Department of State (DOS) has created the Afghanistan Coordination Task Force (ACTF) to aid in these efforts. Information for U.S. citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, persons who worked with the U.S. government or for U.S. government-funded projects can reach the AFTC by email at ACTF@state.gov with inquiries.
This is an uncertain situation. If you have questions regarding the proper request forms, visas, and/or processes to gain access to U.S. soil, contact our Immigration Law Group.
Emergency situations for U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents should be directed towards the DOS at 1-888-407-4747 (U.S. Canada) or +1-202-501-4444 (overseas).
If you wish to provide assistance, check out the following organizations mobilizing their resources:
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services
- Find ways to volunteer, donate, and send a message to President Biden and Congress.
- Lutheran Social Services National Capital Area (LSSNCA)
- Afghan Allies have begun arriving at Fort Lee, Virginia, and LSSNCA is mobilizing its community supporters to be a part of this historic welcome of 2,500 individuals in less than six weeks.
- Church World Service (CWS)
- Explore resources for raising awareness and contacting your senators and representatives in CWS’s Take Action article.
- Evacuate Our Allies (EOA)
- Call on the Biden administration to prioritize the evacuation of Afghan allies this social media toolkit from EOA. It includes key messages, tweets, hashtags, graphics, and resources.
- A resource organizing volunteers to provide temporary housing to refugees, providing up-to-date information on events, and advocating for action from the Executive Branch and Congress. Accepting donations to assist in providing food, housing assistance, job training, violence counseling, and other critical needs for arriving Afghan citizens.
Where to Donate
- Women for Women International
- Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security
- International Rescue Services
Organizations of Interest
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