The legal war between Disney and Scarlett Johansson goes on to make headlines. After calling Johansson’s action to sue Disney as “sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Disney’s lawyer Daniel Petrocelli named the actor’s lawsuit a “highly orchestrated PR campaign.”
“It is obvious that this is a highly orchestrated PR campaign to achieve an outcome that is not obtainable in the lawsuit,” Petrocelli told Vareity. “No amount of public pressure can change or obscure the explicit contractual commitments. The written contract is clear as a bell,” he added.
As per The Wall Street Journal, Johansson’s lawsuit was documented in Los Angeles Superior Court on July 29. The Black Widow actor explained that her pact with Disney-owned Marvel Entertainment affected a guarantee that the movie will solely be released in theatres and her salary was based on the box-office achievement of the movie.
The suit said, “Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.” The studio published the film on their streaming service along with the theatres. The move, as per Johansson’s belief, limited the movie’s possibilities at the box office, and thus rejected her the chance to attain those pre-determined bonuses.
However, Petrocelli upheld Disney’s move to release the movie on the streaming platform and called it an upgrade for Johansson because that income is factored into the box-office tally to evaluate bonuses. Disney Premier Access credited $29.99 for Black Widow. Disney shares some quantity of that income with their distribution members, but the studio’s share will be factored into bonus estimations for actors, he said.
“We treated Disney Premier Access (revenue) like box office for the purposes of the bonus requirements in the contract. That only enhanced the economics for Ms. Johansson,” Petrocelli said.
Black Widow was the first time Disney felt satisfied publishing streaming numbers. The media giant received 60 million dollars from Black Widow’s Disney+ Premier Access publish alone in the opening weekend. This was in extension to 158 million dollar box office, by far the biggest for a pandemic release. Premier Access may have worked big time for the House of Mouse, but Scarlett Johansson believes it was unreasonable to her.
In Variety’s report, Petrocelli goes to criticize Johansson’s action as short-sighted given the incredible conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You had an unexpected COVID crisis and the studio was trying to accommodate millions of fans who are nervous and not comfortable going inside theaters,” Petrocelli said. “All studios have had to adjust,” he added expressing how Disney had no option but to look for creative solutions to allocate the movie as it had invested tens of millions of dollars in Black Widow.
On a concluding note, Petrocelli explained this legitimate war of Disney against Johansson “will take time to resolve” and indicated that in the near future talent deals will “become much more specific about the requirements for any contingent compensation.”