Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Alleging Breach Of Contract

UPDATE AT 4:01pm PST (July 30, 2021): Women In Film LA, Reframe, and Time’s Up have issued a joint statement against Disney’s response to the lawsuit:

While we take no position on the business issues in the litigation between Scarlett Johansson and The Walt Disney Company, we stand firmly against Disney’s recent statement which attempts to characterize Johansson as insensitive or selfish for defending her contractual business rights. This gendered character attack has no place in a business dispute and contributes to an environment in which women and girls are perceived as less able than men to protect their own interests without facing ad hominem criticism.

WIF LA, Reframe, and Time’s Up in a joint statement regarding the lawsuit

UPDATE AT 10:18am PST (July 30, 2021): CAA co-chair and the agent for Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Lourd, issued this statement in response to Disney’s press release on the lawsuit:

“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.

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.

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.”

UPDATE AT 3:58pm PST (July 29, 2021): The Hollywood Reporter has published that Disney has made a statement about these claims:

There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.

The Walt Disney Company on Johansson’s lawsuit

“Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson is suing The Walt Disney Company in a shocking turn of events. Johansson is claiming that they have breached her contract by releasing Black Widow in a hybrid format, not an exclusive theatrical release.

The claim that was filed to the courts on July 29th say “Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.”

This follows after Black Widow made $80 million on its first week of release, but then dropped a whopping 67%, the biggest decline of any Marvel Studios release to date. This is being blamed on Disney’s decision to release Black Widow on Disney+ and in theaters simultaneously, a day-and-date release model.

The complaint also said that Johansson raised concerns in 2019 about the film being released on Disney+, with Disney later on ignoring her requests to renegotiate her contract after the release strategy was changed.

Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, defended the decision to shift Black Widow to hybrid in May on an earnings call. “One of the things we learned is that flexibility is good,” he said. “We’re really celebrating that flexibility … we’re trying to offer consumers more choice.”

This story is developing…..

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