The Mouse has made its move.
In the most recent developments between Disney and ‘Black Widow’ star Scarlett Johansson, the studio has demanded that the actress’ suit over her pay be moved to private arbitration. The filings came near midnight on Friday evening in Los Angeles Superior Court, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In her complaint, Johansson alleges her contract was breached when the superhero film was released on streaming site Disney Plus. The actress earns bonuses when ‘Black Widow’ reaches certain box office performance markers and she accuses Disney of not having the film exclusively in theatres because it “saw the opportunity to promote its flagship subscription service.”
In Friday’s filing, Disney argued the complaint put forth by Johansson and Periwinkle Entertainment has “no merit.”
“The plain and expansive language of the arbitration agreement easily encompasses Periwinkle’s Complaint,” states a motion to compel arbitration. “In a futile effort to evade this unavoidable result (and generate publicity through a public filing), Periwinkle excluded Marvel as a party to this lawsuit——substituting instead its parent company Disney under contract-interference theories. But long-standing principles do not permit such gamesmanship.”
Disney has stressed that ‘Black Widow’ was put on more than 9,000 screens in the US, allegedly satisfying its obligation the film screen on no less than 1,500 (again, Johansson asserts it had to be exclusive), and according to the latest filing, as of August 15, ‘Black Widow’ has grossed more than $367 million in worldwide box office receipts and more than $125 million in streaming and download retail receipts.
Disney compares the ‘Black Widow’ release to other films in the Marvel canon, saying that the opening weekend take was “more than that of many other Marvel Cinematic Universe films, including ‘Thor: The Dark World’; ‘Ant-Man’; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’; and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.”
In a statement to USA today, Johansson’s attorney John Berlinski, said, “Disney is now, predictably, trying to hide its misconduct in a confidential arbitration. Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public?”