News of Scarlett Johansson suing Disney has undoubtedly sent shock waves through Hollywood.
On Thursday, the Avengers actress sued the company over its decision to release the superhero movie Black Widow on streaming platforms at the same time as in cinemas, alleging a breach of contract that would lead to the loss of millions of dollars.
Disney has responded, saying there was “no merit” to the lawsuit.
“The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Disney has fully complied with Ms Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premiere Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20 million she has received to date,” they said.
Now, one of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies has backed Johansson while hitting back at Disney.
Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of the Creative Artists Agency, accused Disney of attacking the actress's character and of revealing her $20m salary for the superhero movie "in an attempt to weaponise her success as an artist and a businesswoman.”
Lourd argued in a statement that 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," Lourd said.
Lourd is not the only one attacking Disney for its comment.
On Friday, Women In Film, ReFrame and Time’s Up partnered up to release a statement against what they call a “gendered attack” by Disney against Johansson.
“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 characterise Johansson as insensitive or selfish for defending her contractual business rights,” their statement reads.
“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."
– Additional reporting by Reuters