Benedict Cumberbatch on Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit against Disney: ‘Bit of a mess’

screenmixSeptember 9, 2021

Benedict Cumberbatch has opened up about the ongoing legal battle between Scarlett Johansson and Disney. In late July, Johansson had alleged violation of terms of her contract by Disney when the studio decided on a hybrid (both streaming and theatrical) release of Black Widow. She claimed since the film did not release solely in theatres, she lost bonuses up to $50 million.

Cumberbatch gave a fairly balanced response to the lawsuit. He told The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s sad what’s going on between the lawyers. Just the verbiage and the accusations of, ‘Put it in a global pandemic context.’ The whole thing’s just a bit of a mess.”

He went on to underline how the film industry has not decided how artistes should be compensated for their work in these challenging times. “We’re trying to understand what the revenue streams should be for artists that contribute to the billion-dollar business that is Disney. And it has to be contractualised. How does an artist’s normal compensation with box office bonuses, how does it work? It’s a new paradigm, and it’s a very complex one. No one saw this coming, and no one should use hindsight to say, ‘Well, it should have been done.’ That was the first of these films that was going to get a cinematic release during the pandemic and got stalled and stalled and stalled. It’s very new territory,” he said.

Cumberbatch is currently enjoying praise for his performance in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog that premiered earlier this month at the ongoing 78th Venice International Film.

In the same Hollywood Reporter interview, he teased the “close relationship” between Peter and Stephen in the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The movie brings back Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, and promises to be one of the biggest films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in quite a while. It is more than just a Spider-Man sequel. For one, it involves the multiverse, which judging by the trailer goes haywire. For another, it is chock-full of important supporting characters, including supervillains from previous Spider-Man film series, and perhaps earlier Spider-Men themselves.

The Jon Watts directorial also has Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, who replaces Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark as Peter’s mentor.

He told THR, “There’s a close relationship. They’re neighborhood superheroes, and they’ve had an experience or two. They’ve got history. It might be the case that Peter asks me to help him do something? I think I’m allowed to say that much.”

“I help him fill in his tax returns. That’s what I do,” he added, certainly as a joke. The trailer did show Peter asking Stephen for his help. But it was to make it so everybody would forget he is Spider-Man. His identity was outed by JK Simmons’ J Jonah Jameson in the post-credit scene of last Spider-Man movie, Far From Home, who used a video of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio as proof.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is scheduled to be released on December 17.