UPDATED 7/30, 12:35 p.m. ET: Johansson’s agent Bryan Lourd, who is also co-chairman at Creative Artists Agency, issued a lengthy response to Disney’s statement on the Black Widow dispute, taking aim—among many things—at the company highlighting the star’s “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.”
“[Disney] 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,” Lourd writes early in his statement. “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.”
Lourd continued: “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.”
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As Joe Flint and Erich Schwartzel first reported for the Wall Street Journal, and as seen in court documents viewed by Complex, Johansson filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday alleging that her contract was breached when Marvel’s parent company released the film on the Disney+ platform alongside its theatrical run.
According to Johansson, an agreement with Marvel Entertainment included the guarantee of a theater-only release. Furthermore, the suit states, Johansson’s salary was based “in large part” on how well the film—which also stars Florence Pugh and David Harbour—did at the traditional box office.
“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,” part of the suit reads.
Elsewhere, the suit alleges that Marvel and Disney were not responsive when Johansson’s team tried to renegotiate her contract in light of Black Widow’s altered release strategy.
When reached for comment by Complex Thursday afternoon, Johansson’s attorney John Berlinski argued that Disney is “hiding behind COVID-19 as a pretext” to boost Disney+ subscribers and the company’s stock price by releasing movies like Black Widow onto the platform.