Disney law firm defends distribution of ‘Black Widow’ in Scarlett Johansson struggle

A attorney symbolizing Walt Disney Co. in its authorized struggle in opposition to actress Scarlett Johansson defended Disney’s distribution of “Black Widow” and said Disney will request to shift the combat from the courts to arbitration.

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“The lawsuit is manifestly wrong in each individual regard,” claimed lawyer Dan Petrocelli of Ms. Johansson’s lately submitted lawsuit. She alleged her agreement was breached when Disney past thirty day period released the film “Black Widow” on its Disney+ streaming provider at the very same time as its theatrical debut.

In Ms. Johansson’s suit, she claimed Disney’s Marvel Enjoyment assured an special theatrical launch with her bonuses primarily based on the movie’s box-place of work overall performance. By creating the movie accessible on Disney+, her probable bonuses had been drastically decreased, the match said. Disney and Marvel, she alleged, were obligated to renegotiate her offer to compensate for the possible problems to the box business office.

Scarlett Johansson comes at the Bafta Movie Awards, in central London, Feb. 2 2020. Johansson is suing the Walt Disney Co. more than the company’s streaming launch of “Black Widow,” which she explained breached her contract and deprived her of possible get paid (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File / AP Newsroom)


Mr. Petrocelli countered in an job interview Friday that her deal contained no these types of assures.

“There are no restrictions or constraints on the company’s judgment on how to distribute ‘Black Widow,’ ” Mr. Petrocelli stated. The deal explicitly offers the studio “comprehensive command and selection-earning about distribution of the movie,” he explained.

The terms of her contract call for a confidential arbitration proceeding to resolve any disputes, Mr. Petrocelli also explained.

Ms. Johansson’s camp has privately claimed the arbitration clause does not apply in this case. Her law firm John Berlinski responded Friday that “if Disney truly believed what its legal professionals now claim, it would welcome having the dispute decided in open court, as an alternative of angling to conceal its misconduct from the public in a private arbitration.”


Mr. Petrocelli, senior Disney executives and Ms. Johansson’s representatives had been in conversations about her worries ahead of the match filing on the other hand, they could not discover typical ground.

“The needs they produced were being unreasonable,” Mr. Petrocelli said, declining to give specifics. Ms. Johansson’s facet has explained Disney was unwilling to have interaction in major negotiations.

As other film studios have completed this calendar year, Disney released “Black Widow” in theaters and on its streaming provider as the Covid-19 pandemic significantly diminished box-office environment receipts. Disney and other studios have been investing seriously in their streaming providers.

Mr. Petrocelli, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, has often represented enjoyment providers in their skirmishes with expertise. He also defended AT&T Inc. in its confrontation with the Justice Office more than its acquisition of what is now WarnerMedia.

This graphic introduced by Marvel Studios reveals Scarlett Johansson in a scene from “Black Widow.” (Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios-Disney through AP / AP Pictures)


The battle is indicative of increasing tensions concerning the inventive neighborhood produced up of actors, producers and writers and important media conglomerates. As the sector becomes far more consolidated and distribution models extend from regular platforms these kinds of as television and film theaters to streaming, talent dread their fiscal interests will be adversely afflicted.

The rhetoric amongst Disney and Ms. Johansson’s camp grew to become heated quickly. Ms. Johannson’s accommodate alleged that Disney Government Chairman Robert Iger and Main Executive Officer Bob Chapek ended up financially determined to put “Black Widow” on Disney+ due to the fact their bonuses are tied in section to the platform’s efficiency.

Disney fired again that the accommodate lacked benefit and identified as it “specially unfortunate and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and extended global outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Disney also disclosed that Ms. Johansson experienced now made $20 million for “Black Widow.”

Ms. Johansson’s agent Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of Creative Artists Agency, reported disclosing her salary was “an endeavor to weaponize her accomplishment as an artist and businesswoman, as if that had been something she should be ashamed of.”

On Friday, the Display Actors Guild weighed in from Disney’s assertion.

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“We are deeply anxious by the gendered tone of Disney’s criticism of Ms. Johansson. Females are not ‘callous’ when they stand up and combat for truthful pay —they are leaders and champions for financial justice,” stated SAG President Gabrielle Carteris.

Mr. Petrocelli explained the statement was “only criticizing the wrongful accusations in the lawsuit that the company induced a breach of agreement.”

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