The surprising battle between Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson and Disney continues to rage on, with the actress's talent agency now firing back at the studio's claims that the lawsuit is "especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects" of the ongoing global situation. Bryan Lourd, the co-chairman of the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), has now released a statement, believing that Disney is mischaracterizing Johansson as being insensitive to the issue.
"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. ... 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."
The lawsuit filed by Johansson relates to the release of the latest Marvel outing, Black Widow, to Disney+ at the same time as theaters, a strategy which the lawsuit claims has resulted in a breach of contract and has had a detrimental effect on Johansson's earnings. In its response, Disney claimed that Johansson had already received a pretty hefty payday of $20 million, something which Lourd believes is now being used by the House of Mouse to make the actress seem greedy.
"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."
The lawsuit, which was recently filed against Disney and Marvel in Los Angeles Superior Court, in part states that "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. It's no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company's stock price - and that it's hiding behind Covid-19 as a pretext to do so."
This legal drama is likely to go on for some time, with rumors now circulating that both Emma Stone and Emily Blunt are considering similar action against Disney over their respective movies also being released quickly to Disney+ Premier Access. When Warner Bros. decided to release its 2021 slate day-and-date on its growing streamer HBOMax, the studio proactively negotiated with talent, including filmmakers and stars, and secured deals to 'liquidate' (or pay-out) back-end participation deals in which talent shares in box office success by receiving a share of the box office take. This effectively allowed Warner to move titles to HBOMax even though the move would undoubtedly diminish the total box office take of each movie. Perhaps Disney needs to reconsider their release plans or, alternatively, reach out and proactively negotiate payments to talent due back-end participation deals, rather than irking every A-list actor/actress in Hollywood...
Black Widow tells the story of Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, as she is forced to confront the darker parts of her edger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy, and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. Directed by Cate Shortland from a screenplay by Eric Pearson. Starring Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow alongside Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, Olga Kurylenko, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz, Black Widow has received generally positive reviews from critics, particularly for the performances from Johansson and Pugh.
The movie has found much success so far, grossing over $319 million worldwide, and thus becoming the fifth-highest-grossing movie of 2021. It has also been reported that Black Widow has made $60 million in Disney+ global revenue in its opening weekend. Black Widow is out now in theaters and is also available to stream on Disney+ through Premier Access. This comes to us courtesy of Variety.