Scarlett Johansson's lawyer slams Disney's 'misogynistic attack' on the actress

Disney has filed a motion to make legal proceedings with the 'Black Widow' star private

Scarlett Johansson's ongoing legal battle with Disney is showing no signs of fading, despite the Marvel parent company's latest attempt for the compensation lawsuit to be handled privately.

In July, Johansson sued Disney over its decision to release the superhero movie Black Widow on its streaming platform at the same time as in cinemas.

She alleges that the breach of contract cost her millions of dollars.

Disney responded, saying: “There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic."

On Friday, the entertainment studio filed a motion to make the legal proceedings private with a "confidential, binding arbitration in New York".

Johansson's lawyer has since criticised Disney for its "misogynistic attack" on the actress and its attempts to take legal proceedings behind closed doors.

"After initially responding to this litigation with a misogynistic attack against Scarlett Johansson, Disney is now, predictably, trying to hide its misconduct in a confidential arbitration. Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public?" Johansson's lawyer, John Berlinski, said.

"Because it knows that Marvel’s promises to give Black Widow a typical theatrical release ‘like its other films’ had everything to do with guaranteeing that Disney wouldn’t cannibalise box office receipts in order to boost Disney+ subscriptions. Yet that is exactly what happened – and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence that proves it."

Black Widow was originally due for a big-screen release in 2020, but was delayed several times owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and was eventually released in August simultaneously in cinemas and on Disney+.

Box office analysts have cited the film's streaming debut as a major factor in it being a lacklustre release, by Marvel standards – the film grossed just over $150 million in domestic cinemas in three weeks.

“It's no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly on to Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company's stock price – and that it's hiding behind Covid-19 as a pretext to do so,” Berlinski told AFP in July.

“This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honour its contracts,” he said.

Last week, Johansson and husband Colin Jost announced the arrival of their baby boy, Cosmo.

Jost took to Instagram to confirm the news on Wednesday, as the couple kept both the pregnancy and birth a closely guarded secret.

"OK, OK we had a baby," Jost wrote in the straight-to-the-point social media post. "His name is Cosmo. We love him very much."

He said: "Privacy would be greatly appreciated," and pointed all inquiries to "publicist" Michael Che, his SNL co-star. Che's Instagram bio now reads, "Cosmo’s publicist".

Jost's post was accompanied with the hashtags, "#wegotawaywithitforalongtime #nokidspolicy #weregoingtodisneyworld".

Johansson and Jost married in an "intimate ceremony" in October 2020, after getting engaged in May 2019 after two years of dating. Johansson is also mother to daughter Rose Dorothy Dauriac, 6, with ex-husband and French journalist Romain Dauriac.

Updated: August 22nd 2021, 8:32 AM
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