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Scarlett Johansson's Agent Fires Back at Disney's Response to Her Black Widow Lawsuit

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Scarlett Johansson's agent is speaking out in her defense amid her legal battle against the Walt Disney Company.

On Thursday, July 29, the actress, one of the world's highest-paid stars, sued the corporation for allegedly breaching her contract by offering Black Widow, her standalone Marvel superhero movie, for rent on its streaming service Disney+ at the same time it debuted the film in theaters earlier this month. Her complaint, filed in a Los Angeles court and obtained by E! News, argued that the hybrid release led to a reduction in her compensation, which was partially based on box office receipts.

Disney had said in a statement in response to Johansson's complaint that there is "no merit whatsoever" to the suit, calling it "especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic." Now, Johansson's agent is firing back.

"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," Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of top talent group Creative Artists Agency (CAA), said in a statement to E! News on Friday, July 30. "Scarlett has been Disney's partner on nine movies, which have earned Disney and its shareholders billions."

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In their statement, Disney said the company "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."

Lourd responded in his statement, "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."

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson

"This suit was filed as a result of Disney's decision to knowingly violate Scarlett's contract," the actress' agent said in his statement. "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."

He added, "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."

Disney had no immediate comment on Lourd's statement when reached by E! News.

The company is not the first to debut a new film on a streaming platform amid the coronavirus pandemic. Disney has employed the same hybrid release strategy with a few other movies, most recently its new Jungle Cruise film.

The film has so far earned more than $159 million at the domestic box office and more than $319 million at movie theaters worldwide since its July 9 release. It tallied more than $60 million from rental fees on Disney+ during its opening weekend. According to Forbes, which cited Hollywood sources, Johansson could have earned more than $50 million in bonus payments had Black Widow been released exclusively in theaters.

Johansson is the highest paid woman in the Marvel franchise and ranked the No. 1 top-earning actress in 2019 with $56 million in annual pay, Forbes reported. The outlet said she made $35 million from her appearance as Black Widow in that year's blockbuster Avengers: Endgame—$20 million of which came from bonus payments from the film's worldwide box office revenue, which totaled almost $2.8 billion.