- Film & TV
- 23 Aug 21
The superstar actress and Disney are in an ongoing legal battle over a breach of her contract.
Scarlet Johansson’s lawyer has accused Disney of trying to “hide its misconduct” with a private arbitration in an ongoing legal battle.
Johansson’s lawyer, John Berlinski, also accused the studio giant of misogyny in his statement. “After initially responding to this litigation with a misogynistic attack against Scarlett Johansson, Disney is now predictably trying to hide its misconduct in a confidential arbitration,” he wrote.
On Saturday (August 21) the company filed a motion to push Johansson into a private arbitration, which Berlinski claimed was an effort by Disney to hide their misconduct.
The lawyer said they were filing for arbitration “because it knows that Marvel’s promises to give Black Widow a typical theatrical release ‘like its other films’ had everything to do with guaranteeing that Disney wouldn’t cannibalise box office receipts in order to boost Disney Plus subscriptions."
“That is exactly what happened – and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence that proves it,” he added.
The actor initiated legal proceedings against Disney last month due to their decision to simultaneously release Black Widow on Disney + and in cinemas on July 9th. Johannson alleged that this was in breach of her contract.
Her lawsuit claimed that this heavily impacted ticket sales for the film which the studio denied. Disney stated that “there is no merit whatsoever to this filing” and claimed they had “fully complied” with her contract.
The filing also alleged that the 36-year old’s compensation for the film was “largely based” on its box-office performance which fell below expectations. Disney were also criticised for disclosing Johansson’s fee for the film which her agent called “an attempt to weaponise her success as an artist and businesswoman.”
In Johansson’s complaint, it was argued that she had “extracted a promise from Marvel that the release would be a ‘theatrical release’.”
“Disney was well aware of this promise, but nonetheless directed Marvel to violate its pledge and instead release the Picture on the Disney Plus streaming service the very same day it was released in movie theatres,” it continued.
Black Widow, which stars Johansson as the title character, is one of the lowest grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies of all time. It has garnered global takings of $319.5million (€272.3 million) so far.
Without the simultaneous release, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) told Variety that Black Widow could have achieved an opening weekend return of $92 million (€78.3million) to $100 million (€85.2million).
Black Widow is also expected to be Johannson’s final MCU appearance. It was originally scheduled for release in May of 2020 but was pushed back to July 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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