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CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd is criticizing Disney for its aggressive response to his client Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against the company over Black Widow’s release to Disney+, which included calling the star “callous” in regard to the effects of the pandemic.
“They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t,” Lourd said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
The CAA boss said Johansson had partnered with Disney on nine movies, “which have earned Disney and its shareholders billions.”
Marvel’s Black Widow is among numerous event movies that have debuted simultaneously on streaming and in theaters because of the pandemic. Johansson’s complaint says Disney sacrificed the movie’s box office potential in order to grow its streaming service.
Earlier, Disney said Johansson’s lawsuit had “no merit,” before adding in a statement: “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”
Black Widow — whose release was delayed more than a year amid the COVID-19 crisis — debuted earlier in July in theaters around the globe as well as on Disney+ Premier Access for an additional $30. Disney took the unusual step of announcing Disney+ revenue over the film’s opening weekend, saying it had earned $60 million.
Lourd’s full statement is below:
I want to address the Walt Disney Company’s statement that was issued in response to the lawsuit filed against them yesterday by our client Scarlett Johansson. They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t.
Scarlett has been Disney’s partner on nine movies, which have earned Disney and its shareholders billions. The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of. Scarlett is extremely proud of the work that she, and all of the actors, writers, directors, producers, and the Marvel creative team have been a part of for well over a decade.
This suit was filed as a result of Disney’s decision to knowingly violate Scarlett’s contract. They have very deliberately moved the revenue stream and profits to the Disney+ side of the company, leaving artistic and financial partners out of their new equation. That’s it, pure and simple.
Disney’s direct attack on her character and all else they implied is beneath the company that many of us in the creative community have worked with successfully for decades.
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