If Disney has its way, we might not hear quite so much about Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit in the coming days. The company is trying to force Johansson to take the issue out of the public eye.
At the end of July, news broke that Scarlett Johansson was suing Disney over the release of Black Widow. Johansson’s suit alleged that the actress was guaranteed an exclusive theater release in her contract and that by instead simultaneously releasing the film both in theaters and in Disney+, Johansson lost around $50 million in bonuses based on box office receipts. Per Variety, Disney soon fired back, saying the actress’ suit had no merit, and calling it “sad and distressing” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The case garnered a lot of attention, particularly considering what the result could mean for a future that could potentially include more simultaneous releases.
Now Disney is apparently hoping a lot of that attention will go away. On Saturday Variety reported that Disney had filed a motion to compel Scarlett Johansson into private arbitration. The motion claims Black Widow did well in the theaters under the circumstances, pointing out that its $80 million opening weekend not only was a pandemic release record, but that it beat the opening weekend receipts of F9 by $10 million. The motion also adds that Disney added the $125 million the company received to the gross in terms of calculating for Johansson’s bonus, even though the 2017 Black Widow contract did not require them to do so.
Scarlett Johansson’s attorney John Berlinski sent a statement to Variety in response to Disney’s motion. Berlinski called the company’s earlier July 29 response a “misogynistic attack” and claimed the point of the motion was to move the issue out of the public eye. He went on to reiterate the allegation that Disney gave Black Widow a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release in order to “cannibalize box office receipts” for the sake of increased Disney+ subscriptions.
One of the most immediate responses to the news of Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit was another lawsuit from another actor. The day after news broke about Johansson’s suit, Gerard Butler filed suit against Nu Image/Millennium Films, claiming the star is owed at least $10 million in backend compensation for 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen.
Whatever the future may have in store for Scarlett Johansson’s legal battle, her career future won’t have much to do with Disney — at least not for a while. We learned earlier this month that Disney had cut all ties with the actress. The following day we learned from our sources that Warner Bros. was doing its best to lure the former Black Widow actress into a DC Comics role. Inspired in part by The Hollywood Reporter writer Richard Newby’s column arguing James Gunn should be tapped to direct DC’s long-dormant Gotham City Sirens project, multitudes of fans began openly campaigning for ScarJo to ditch the red in Black Widow’s ledger for the green of Dr. Pamela Isley, aka Poison Ivy.