Scarlett Johansson’s lawyer accuses Disney of ‘misogynistic attack’ and attempting to ‘hide misconduct’

Actor’s legal team called Disney’s filing for arbitration ‘predictable’

Annabel Nugent
Sunday 22 August 2021 09:46
Black Widow - Trailer

Scarlett Johansson’s lawyer has accused Disney of a “misogynistic attack” as well as attempting to “hide misconduct” by seeking arbitration.

Last month, it was announced that Johansson was initiating legal proceedings against the company.

In her complaint, the actor alleges that the simultaneous release of Black Widow on Disney Plus as well as in cinemas violated her contract.

The filing, which was reviewed by The Independent, alleged that Johansson’s compensation for the movie was “largely based” on Black Widow’s box office performance, which was substantially lower than projected.

In response to the suit, Disney issued a statement claiming that “there is no merit whatsoever to this filing” and that the company had “fully complied” with her contract.

Yesterday (21 August), Disney filed a motion to force Johansson into a private arbitration.

Johansson’s lawyer John Berlinski issued a scathing statement in response.

“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 said.

Disney was earlier criticised for disclosing the actor’s fee – $20m (£14.3m) –  for the film, a move which Johansson’s agent called “an attempt to weaponise her success as an artist and businesswoman”.

Berlinski speculated that the company was 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”.

He added: “Yet that is exactly what happened – and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence that proves it.”

Scarlett Johansson en 'Black Widow'

The Oscar-nominee’s lawsuit argues that her compensation for the movie was “largely based” on Black Widow’s box office performance, and had “extracted a promise from Marvel that the release would be a ‘theatrical release’.’

It continues: “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.”

As it stands, Black Widow is one of the lowest-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films to date with global takings of $319.5m (£229m), a figure that cinema owners are attributing to the simultaneous streaming release.

The film, which is Johansson’s character’s long overdue standalone outing, is expected to be her final MCU appearance. It was originally scheduled to be released in May 2020, but was delayed until June 2021.

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