American actress Scarlett Johansson has upped the ante in her legal fight with the Walt Disney Company by demanding both monetary and punitive damages from the company for backtracking from its promise and causing huge loss to her share in the revenues from Black Widow’s theatrical release.
Several advocacy organizations including Women in Film, Los Angeles, ReFrame and TIME’S UP supported the 36-year-old actress after Disney, the parent company of Marvel Studios, used language which they termed as an attack on her based on her gender.
“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,” reads the statement from the advocacy organizations.
“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.”
Scarlett Johansson sought damages through a lawsuit at a local court, arguing that Disney was fully aware of the contract that it is bound to have an exclusive theatrical release for the movie, Black Widow. But, Disney breached its promise by airing the movie on its streaming service the same day as the theatrical release.
According to the lawsuit, the Disney action served a dual purpose as they want an enhanced share of the film’s revenues and an increased subscriber base. The company also wanted to dent the revenues accrued from the film’s theatrical release as according to the contract, the actress will receive a part of the box office receipts.
Disney did not acknowledge her argument and called her complaint a “callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Disney company said it has already paid the actress $20 million for her work on the Black Widow movie.
Co-chairman of the Creative Arts Agency (CAA), Bryan Lourd said Disney had “shamelessly and falsely accused Ms Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic.”
“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,” he added.