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The Email That Set Off Scarlett Johansson's Dispute with Marvel Over Disney+by@legalpdf
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The Email That Set Off Scarlett Johansson's Dispute with Marvel Over Disney+

by Legal PDFMay 22nd, 2024
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Disney's launch of Disney+ and Marvel's assurances about the theatrical release of 'Black Widow' led to Scarlett Johansson's legal dispute, focusing on compensation linked to box office earnings.
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Periwinkle Entertainment, Inc. v. The Walt Disney Company Court Filing retrieved [redacted] is part of HackerNoon’s Legal PDF Series. You can jump to any part in this filing here. This part is 6 of 12.

C. Disney Announces the Launch of Streaming Platform Disney+, Leading Marvel to Further Clarify Its Promises to Ms. Johansson

25. On August 8, 2017, Disney announced its plans to launch “a new Disney-branded direct-to-consumer service in 2019.” This then-unnamed service would eventually become Disney+, a SVOD platform that is wholly owned by Disney and features films and television series from an array of Disney brands.


26. By the time Disney+ launched on November 12, 2019, it was competing with a number of other major subscription streaming platforms, including but not limited to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, HBO Now, and Apple TV+. With an initial subscription fee of $7 per month, which was thereafter increased to $8 per month, Disney+ needed premium content to convince potential customers to dig into their wallets and shell out for yet another premium SVOD service.


27. At a shareholder meeting on March 7, 2019, Disney’s then-CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney’s entire feature film library would be made available on Disney+. He also signaled that Disney’s 2019 theatrical releases, beginning with MCU entry Captain Marvel, would debut on Disney+ for streaming after their theatrical runs. Finally, Mr. Iger indicated that Disney+ would have its own slate of original films and series.


28. In light of these announcements, Ms. Johansson’s representatives reached out to Marvel to confirm that the launch of Disney+ would not impact the exclusive, wide theatrical release that Ms. Johansson had bargained for in the Agreement. Dave Galluzzi, Marvel’s Chief Counsel, responded on March 20, 2019:


Further [to] our conversation today, it is 100% our plan to do a typical wide release of Black Widow. We have very high expectations for the film and are very excited to try to do for Black Widow what we’ve just done with Captain Marvel.


We totally understand that Scarlett’s willingness to do the film and her whole deal is based on the premise that the film would be widely theatrically released like our other pictures. We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses.


(Emphases added.) Mr. Galluzzi attached a fully executed copy of the Agreement to this email.


29. Thus, Mr. Galluzzi, on Marvel’s behalf, communicated his understanding that Ms. Johansson’s WWBO bonus was her primary consideration under the Agreement, that the Picture would be “widely theatrically released,” and that this release would be “like our other pictures,” meaning exclusively to theatres for between 82 and 159 days, with an average uninterrupted window of 117 days. Moreover, Mr. Galluzzi acknowledged on behalf of Marvel that any change in that planned theatrical release would materially and adversely impact the value of the Agreement to Ms. Johansson and thus the deal would need to be renegotiated to account for the reduction in her promised backend compensation.



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