Disney moves to avoid trial in Scarlett Johansson's ‘Black Widow’ lawsuit
Disney is looking to avoid trial in Scarlett Johansson's "Black Widow" lawsuit. In her lawsuit, Johansson alleges Disney breached her contract for the superhero film by simultaneously releasing the movie on Disney+. She was poised to earn bonuses when "Black Widow" reached specified box office performance markers, markers she alleges were hindered by Disney's decision to not release the film exclusively in theatres. All in all, the Disney+ move reportedly caused Scar-Jo to lose a projected $50 million.
Upon hearing news of the lawsuit, Disney originally responded by issuing a surprising statement that referenced Johansson's $20 million salary, and called it "sad and distressing" in light of the global coronavirus pandemic. Disney's response was unexpected, with many blasting the studio's response to Johansson's filing, further increasing the exposure of the issue.
Disney is reportedly moving to avoid a trial in Johansson's "Black Widow" lawsuit by demanding the suit be moved to arbitration. The company's filings came clear recently in the Superior Court of Los Angeles. The filings revealed that Disney had initiated arbitration against Johansson on August 10.
Surprisingly, the language of the arbitration provision states points that are less legally important though certainly poised to attract attention.
For instance, the company's lawyers detailed the fact that "Black Widow" was played on over 9,000 screens in the US, which allegedly satisfied their obligation to show the film on no less than 1,500 screens. Additionally, the papers state that the film grossed over $367 million worldwide at the box office, comparing its opening weekend take to other films in the Marvel canon, which was "more than that of many other Marvel Cinematic Universe films." Though Disney's points are minor legal takes, they are open to interpretation, which sets up the next phase of the arbitration process.
Still, the public has largely sided with Johansson over her lawsuit. Disney's disappointing response to the lawsuit has undeniably damaged their reputation, which has led to different discussions about ethical standards.