A Disney attorney accused Johansson and her legal team of trying to game the courts.
Disney has filed a motion to settle a lawsuit filed by “Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson in private arbitration.
USA Today reports that the motion was submitted to Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday.
In it, Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli said that Johansson had already agreed to settle any disputes behind closed doors. Petrocelli specifically alleged that the contract between Disney and Johansson’s agency, Periwinkle Entertainment Inc., included a “binding arbitration” clause curtailing the actress’s right to civil litigation.
According to USA Today, Disney’s motion to move the case to arbitration is the company’s first filing since Johansson submitted her lawsuit on 29 July.
As LegalReader.com reported earlier this month, Johansson filed suit after Disney decided to pursue a simultaneous release of “Black Widow” in theaters and its signature streaming platform, Disney+.
Johansson contends that her contract stipulates that the largest share of her income is to come from box off receipts. By putting “Black Widow” online, Johansson says the company has effectively cut her pay.
Furthermore, Johansson and her attorneys claim that Disney made a calculated move, manipulating the contours of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to push more consumers onto Disney+.
However, Disney has vigorously and repeatedly denied Johansson’s accusations, saying the actress’s demands for an all-theater release are irresponsible in light of the global health crisis.
In its Friday filing, Disney maintained that Johansson and Periwinkle Entertainment’s lawsuit has “no merit.”
“There is nothing in the Agreement requiring that a ‘wide theatrical release’ also be an ‘exclusive’ theatrical release,” Petrocelli wrote.
Petrocelli further cited Black Widow’s box office performance, noting that the movie had, at the time of his filing, earned more than $135 million between theater receipts and Disney+ Premiere Access purchases.
Disney further alleged that Johansson and her attorneys were trying to work the legal system through “gamesmanship.”
According to the company, Johansson intentionally omitted Marvel—another party to the production of Black Widow—as a defendant.
Petrocelli wrote that, if Johansson had named Marvel as a defendant, the case would have automatically been sent into arbitration.
Nonetheless, Johansson attorney John Berlinski told USA Today that Disney’s filing makes it clear the company has an agenda it does not want going public.
“After initially responding to this litigation with a misogynistic attack against Scarlett Johansson, Disney is now, predictably, trying to hide its misconduct in confidential arbitration,” Berlinski said. “Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public?”
Berlinski told USA Today that he and his legal team “look forward” to keeping the case in court and presenting evidence demonstrating Disney’s wrongdoing.