Scarlett Johansson's agent Bryan Lourd is firing back after Disney slammed the Black Widow actress for filing a breach of contract lawsuit against the company due to its simultaneous theatrical and streaming release of her solo Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Johansson filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday, saying that her contract based her salary largely on box office sales, and didn't allow for the film to make its debut on Disney+.
Thursday, Disney released a statement saying the actress' lawsuit showed "callous disregard" for the COVID-19 pandemic, which was its excuse for releasing the film on Disney+ on the same day as in theaters. Disney also revealed Johansson's $20 million salary, which it claimed when paired with the Disney+ earnings "significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation."
Lourd released a fiery statement to Deadline Friday saying that Disney had "shamelessly and falsely" accused his client of being insensitive to the pandemic "in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn't." Pointing out that Johansson has been a Disney partner in nine movies that have earned the company and its shareholders "billions," Lourd claimed her salary was released publicly 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," he continued, adding that the lawsuit was only 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," 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."
Johansson's attorney, John Berlinski of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, claimed in a statement Thursday that Disney was releasing blockbusters onto Disney+ in order to boost its stock price, "hiding behind COVID-19 as a pretext to do so." He continued, "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."