The battle between Disney and Scarlett Johansson just keeps heating up. The Marvel star shocked the industry at the end of July by filing a lawsuit against the studio, alleging that the decision to simultaneously release Black Widow on streaming contravened the actress’ contract. Johansson stood to earn revenue from its box office gross, and with its Disney Plus opening affecting its earnings, she’s believed to have lost around $50 million.
Disney hasn’t exactly responded graciously to the suit and has previously blasted Johansson’s actions, claiming she was displaying a “callous disregard” for the COVID-19 outbreak. The star’s representatives hit back at this response, calling it a “direct attack” on her character. The most recent move from Disney saw them describe the lawsuit as an “orchestrated PR campaign” as well as opening arbitration against the actress in attempt to avoid trial.
But it seems Johansson’s team is not going to buckle down. The two-time Oscar nominee’s lawyer, John Berlinski, has now labelled Disney’s reaction to the lawsuit “a misogynistic attack” and argues that Disney deliberately released Black Widow on D+ in order to drive up subscribers even though it would “cannibalize box office receipts.” Here’s Berlinski’s full response, as revealed by Deadline:
“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. Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public? 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 cannibalize box office receipts in order to boost Disney+ subscriptions. Yet that is exactly what happened – and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence that proves it.”
Johansson’s lawsuit was a groundbreaking development in a tempestuous period for the movie industry, which continues to adjust to both the impact of the pandemic and the rise of streaming. With movie theaters still not risk-free zones and with many upcoming big-screen releases in doubt, this case is leading to much speculation that other Disney stars may launch similar suits against the company. At this point, though, they’ve managed to avoid them. Emma Stone, for instance, was reportedly considering it but ultimately ended up signing on for Cruella 2.
The animosity between Scarlett Johansson and her reps and Disney isn’t cooling down, though. Expect this battle to rage on for a long time yet.