The battle between Disney and one of its most high-profile Marvel movie stars isn't cooling down. Scarlett Johansson's attorneys issued a fiery clap back after the House of Mouse legal team criticized the star's people taking the lawsuit public.
Disney reportedly wants to go into "confidential arbitration," essentially removing the conflict from view.
Deadline quoted Johansson attorney John Berlinski, who said, "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?,” added the Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP attorney in what has become a Cuban Missile Crisis level war of words.
“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 cannibalize box office receipts in order to boost Disney+ subscriptions,” Berlinski adds, as Disney insists Marvel’s contract with Johansson provides for arbitration exactly in the event of a dispute like this one that erupted on July 29. “Yet that is exactly what happened – and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence that proves it.”
To recap in case the conflict wasn't clear in the quote above: Johansson filed a suit contending that Black Widow's so-so box office receipts were in part due to a simultaneous release done in an effort to goose subscriptions to the still-new Disney+ streaming platform. Essentially, she contends Disney cheated her out of additional profits from the theatrical release.
Disney put Johansson on blast from the beginning, essentially trying to shame her side by contending the suit represented an insensitive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which struck a major blow to Hollywood's moneymaking machine in general.
Another Marvel star has chimed in and she's in full support of Scarlett Johansson. Wandavision star Elizabeth Olsen, aka the Scarlet Witch, addressed the suit in a Zoom discussion with fellow Emmy nominee Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso) and Vanity Fair.
VF's reporter asked if either Sudeikis or Olsen were "worried about the theatrical experience, in the way that COVID has changed how movies are being released at this point?" Then they noted that Johansson's suit was directly related to the way her movie was released.
Olsen said she was worried about "a bunch of things" where this issue was concerned, but not "worried on Scarlett’s behalf."
She then listed some of those worries and said, "when it comes to actors and their earnings, I mean, that’s just, that’s just all contracts. So it’s either in the contract or it’s not."
Addressing Sudeikis, Olsen asked, "What about you? Are you worried about Scarlett?"
"Of course," replied the former SNL player, who went on to point out that Johansson is married to his "comedy brother," Colin Jost.
Olsen added, "I think she’s so tough and literally when I read that I was like, 'good for you Scarlett.'"
Next moves are anyone's guess, though more often than not conflicts like this are indeed settled in arbitration that might even involve clauses that won't allow discussion on the record later.
An actual mouse bitten by a black widow spider pretty much won't make it, even if the mouse immediately takes out the spider in revenge. Just like in nature, this legal battle might end badly for everyone.