Disney is publicly addressing Scarlett Johansson‘s lawsuit, where Johansson claimed the company breached her contract after streaming Black Widow on Disney+ as well as in movie theaters.
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” a spokesperson for the Walt Disney Company said in a statement, which was obtained by PEOPLE. “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,” the statement read.
Johansson, 36, filed a lawsuit against Disney this past Thursday in Los Angeles, alleging the conglomerate breached her contract when it released this summer’s blockbuster Black Widow on its Disney+ streaming service at the same time that it was released in movie theaters.
In the lawsuit, which was obtained by PEOPLE, Johansson said her Black Widow contract with Disney’s Marvel Entertainment was for a guaranteed exclusive movie theater release, with the bulk of her salary depending in large part on the film’s box office performance.
“Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel,” the suit said.
Johansson’s attorney, John Berlinski, said in a statement which was obtained by PEOPLE:
“It’s no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company’s stock price — and that it’s hiding behind COVID-19 as a pretext to do so,” Berlinski began.
“But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we look forward to proving as much in court,” the statement concluded.
“This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts,” it continued.
Johansson’s character, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, died in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.
Earlier this month, Johansson admitted in an interview with Fatherly that she had “no plans to return” as Black Widow.
“I feel really satisfied with this film,” she said. “It feels like a great way to go out for this chapter of my Marvel identity.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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