Disney Fires Back At Scarlett Johansson’s “Callous” Lawsuit Over ‘Black Widow’ Release Strategy

Disney is not happy with Scarlett Johansson and her “callous” decision to sue them over Black Widow‘s hybrid release in theaters and streaming. The Mouse House has fired back with a blistering response that takes aim at the actress for asking for more money during a pandemic.

I’m sorry, was Disney hurting during the shutdowns? Seems like they were doing pretty damn okay. Here is their statement via Business Insider

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. 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.“

Call me crazy, but I don’t think people are going to get on this pity wagon with Disney here. And the “Don’t you make enough money?” defense ain’t gonna help, either.

ScarJo’s attorney John Belinski came back pretty quick in response…

“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. 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.”

When this story broke yesterday, I said studios are going to pay for not taking care of this shit early, and pretending it was just business as usual. Maybe to them, but not to the actors who were seeing pay cuts due to their films opening digitally rather than theatrically. We saw the uproar from filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve when Warner Bros. did it, and now Disney is catching that same heat.

According to Justin Kroll, other stars were pissed, too. Denzel wasn’t happy about The Little Things, which evaporated upon release on HBO Max. The same goes for Mark Wahlberg whose Infinite was forgotten pretty quickly after debuting as a Paramount+ exclusive. Trust me, stories like this are not over.

Furthermore, this may have caused a rift between Disney and Marvel chief Kevin Feige, who is not given to public disputes with the talent…

THR editor Matt Belloni says of Feige, “Make no mistake: Feige is pissed. He’s a company man and not prone to corporate showdowns or shouting matches. But I’m told he’s angry and embarrassed. He lobbied Disney against the day-and-date plan for Black Widow, preferring the big screen exclusivity and not wanting to upset his talent. And then when the shit hit the fan, the movie started tanking, and Johansson’s team threatened litigation, he wanted Disney to make this right with her.”

I still believe this gets settled in some backroom somewhere, but like I said before, this will continue to be a problem until studios start taking it seriously.



Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.