Disney Attorney Calls Scarlett Johansson Lawsuit ‘an Orchestrated PR Campaign’

By | August 6, 2021

The ongoing dispute between Scarlett Johansson and Disney over Black Widow’s release has continued to grow, and most recently, longtime Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli has stepped in to say that Johansson’s lawsuit nothing more than a public relations campaign.

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Speaking to Variety, Petrocelli noted that the demands in Johansson’s litigation are beyond what any actor’s contract with the studio might suggest. Petrocelli went on to say that the moves Johansson has made are being done in an orchestrated manner, despite what their contract may say.

“It is obvious that this is a highly orchestrated PR campaign to achieve an outcome that is not obtainable in the lawsuit,” Petrocelli said. “No amount of public pressure can change or obscure the explicit contractual commitments. The written contract is clear as a bell.”

Petrocelli specifically noted that the contract between Johansson and Disney states that both sides go to arbitration for any disputes rather than open court. The contract also allegedly calls for Disney to release Black Widow on a minimum of 1,500 screens in the United States, which Disney did by releasing the film on 9,000 U.S. screens and 30,000 worldwide. Petrocelli also notes that the distribution decisions rest entirely with Disney, regardless of what others may claim.

Johansson’s argument seems to stem from the fact that the decision to make Black Widow a day-and-date release in theaters and online via Disney+’s Premiere Access service harmed the actress and the box-office threshold bonuses she may have received. According to Petrocelli, the company releasing the film on Disney+ acted as a boost, because the revenue from the Premiere Access service factors into box-office tallies.

“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.

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Of course, the dispute between both parties is far from over, with both legal teams essentially blaming the other for the way things have gone. As things continued, it will be interesting to see how far this goes in the court system, and what, if any, decisions are made as a result.