Hours after news broke that Scarlett Johansson was filing a lawsuit against Disney for breach of contract in regards to the release of Black Widow, the studio released a response to that lawsuit, with Johansson’s agent and CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd calling out the studio for a “direct attack on her character,” per Deadline. Black Widow was initially slated to hit theaters last May, with those plans delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in Disney debuting the film both in theaters and through their Premier Access platform, with Johansson’s lawsuit noting that this altered her compensation in regards to her earnings connected to the streaming debut. Disney’s response pointed out how much she was earning from the initial contract and claimed that the lawsuit demonstrated “callous disregard” for the pandemic.
“I want to address the Walt Disney Company’s statement that was issued in response to the lawsuit filed against them yesterday by our client Scarlett Johansson. They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t,” Lourd’s statement reads. “Scarlett has been Disney’s partner on nine movies, which have earned Disney and its shareholders billions. The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of. Scarlett is extremely proud of the work that she, and all of the actors, writers, directors, producers, and the Marvel creative team have been a part of for well over a decade.”
He continued, “This suit was filed as a result of Disney’s decision to knowingly violate Scarlett’s contract. They have very deliberately moved the revenue stream and profits to the Disney+ side of the company leaving artistic and financial partners out of their new equation. That’s it, pure and simple. Disney’s direct attack on her character and all else they implied is beneath the company that many of us in the creative community have worked with successfully for decades.”
Johansson’s initial complaint notes that she believes the strategy of making Black Widow available through Disney+ was an attempt to draw subscribers to the new platform and that she signed on to be a part of the film based on what she would earn from its theatrical performance, with her attempts to renegotiate that contract with Disney largely being ignored by the studio in the wake of them changing their release strategy.
Stay tuned for updates on the situation.