Advocacy Groups Slam Disney for 'Gendered Character Attack' on Scarlett Johansson

The actress is suing Disney for breach of contract, claiming their decision to stream 'Black Widow' on Disney+ cost her tens of millions of dollars.

Scarlett Johansson

Image via Getty/Alberto E. Rodriguez

Scarlett Johansson

Hollywood advocacy groups are coming to Scarlett Johansson’s defense.

Earlier this week, the Oscar-nominated actress filed a lawsuit against Disney over its decision to simultaneously release Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+. Johansson claimed the move was a breach of contract and would potentially cost her tens of millions of dollars in backend compensation. Disney described the filing as “meritless” and “callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract,” Disney wrote in its response to the suit, “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.”

On Friday afternoon, Women In Film, ReFrame, and Time’s Up slammed Disney’s response as a “gendered character attack” on Johansson, but emphasized they took no position in the legal battle. 

“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,” the groups wrote in a joint statement shared by Variety. “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.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Black Widow’s opening weekend grossed $60 million from at-home purchases on Disney+, $80 million at the U.S. box office, and $78 million overseas.

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