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Disney Files Motion For Arbitration In Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow Lawsuit

August 22, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Black Widow Scarlett Johansson Florence Pugh Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Disney is seeking to move their very public legal battle with Scarlett Johansson over the release of Black Widow into arbitration. Deadline obtained a filing in the suit from Disney in which they requested that the lawsuit filed by Johansson be moved into the arbitration process.

The motion, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Disney said that it had previously agreed with Johansson to move into arbitration in the case of any issues. The filing refers to Periwinkle Entertainment, Johansson’s production company that was involved in Black Widow and through whom the lawsuit was filed.

“The plain and expansive language of the arbitration agreement easily encompasses Periwinkle’s Complaint,” the motion argues. “In a futile effort to evade this unavoidable result (and generate publicity through a public filing), Periwinkle excluded Marvel as a party to this lawsuit––substituting instead its parent company Disney under contract-interference theories. But longstanding principles do not permit such gamesmanship.”

Johansson filed suit against Disney late last month, alleging that the Mouse House attempted to divert the film’s theatrical revenue into Disney+ which harmed the actress’ bonuses that she would have received through performance bonuses at certain levels.

For their part, Disney’s attorney has called the lawsuit a “highly orchestrated PR campaign” and argued that the studio fulfilled the contract by releasing Black Widow on 9,000 U.S. screens and 30,000 screens worldwide.

Johansson’s primary lawyer John Berlinski issued a statement following the motion, which read, “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?

“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. Yet that is exactly what happened – and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence that proves it.”