Recently, Marvel star Scarlett Johansson entered into a very public dispute with Disney over a potential breach of contract. The actress claimed that Disney “[prevented her] from realising the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel” by doing a simultaneous release in theatres as well as on their streaming platform Disney+.
In retaliation, Disney slammed Johansson and called her disrespectful for not understanding that many people still do not have access to theatres due to the consequences of the pandemic. They even stated that they are no longer willing to work with Johansson, shutting down future projects with which the actress was attached.
“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,” Johansson’s primary legal counsel John Berlinski said in a recent statement. He claimed that the global corporation does not want the case to be public.
“Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public?,” 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.”
The recent motion filed by Disney’s lawyers states the actress has agreed to arbitration behind closed doors: “Periwinkle [the company representing Scarlett Johansson] agreed that all claims ‘arising out of, in connection with, or relating to’ Scarlett Johansson’s acting services for Black Widow would be submitted to confidential, binding arbitration in New York.”
Adding, “Whether Periwinkle’s claims against Disney fall within the scope of that agreement is not a close call: Periwinkle’s interference and inducement claims are premised on Periwinkle’s allegation that Marvel breached the contract’s requirement that any release of Black Widow includes a ‘wide theatrical release’ on ‘no less than 1,500 screens’. The plain and expansive language of the arbitration agreement easily encompasses Periwinkle’s Complaint.”