After the great architect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kevin Feige, expressed his anger at Disney, the temperature in the disputes between Disney and Scarlett Johansson over their compensation for the film Black Widow does not seem to have cooled during the week after the Actress had initiated her lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
A simple publicity stunt?
It looks like neither Disney nor Scarlett Johansson have any plans to cover up the case anytime soon. Long-time Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli issued a damning statement on Friday afternoon describing the Black Widow star’s actions as a “highly orchestrated PR campaign”.
The latest Petrocelli comments received by Variety suggest that the lawsuit filed by Johansson and his team was just an “obvious” attempt to get a check from Disney for additional royalties. Petrocelli said:
It is obvious that this is a heavily orchestrated public relations effort to achieve a result that cannot be achieved in the process. No public pressure can change or obscure explicit contractual obligations. The written contract is crystal clear.
Variety also got their hands on some details of the contract, including the fact that all disputes must instead go through arbitration (an alternative process in which the parties submit the dispute to one or more arbitrators to settle their dispute). than from the court. But, as the outlet points out, Johansson’s said deal is actually with Marvel Studios, but not with parent company Disney. The lawsuit was therefore filed against Disney based on the legal thesis that Disney’s strategic priorities in support of its new streaming platforms were Marvel. Petrocelli then added:
We have treated Disney Premier Access revenue as ticket revenue for the purposes of contract bonuses. This only improves Mrs Johansson’s economic situation.
the black widow’s answer
Following Disney’s first public response to the lawsuit, Johansson’s team responded with a statement describing the studio’s testimony as a “personal and mysogenic attack” on the star.
Johansson’s lawyer John Berlinski said at the time:
But Disney’s attorneys cannot erase the company’s previous public statements, Ms. Johansson’s terms of contract, the story that led to this lawsuit, or the impact of her conduct on the general talent community. If Disney really believed what its lawyers are now claiming, the company would be happy if the dispute were resolved publicly rather than trying to hide its wrongdoing from the public in confidential arbitration.
a slow transition
Petrocelli admits that the conflict is exacerbated by the fact that it takes place in the larger context of an industry in transition. The meticulous details of artist contracts and compensation formulas have not kept pace with the development and distribution of films and television programs.
He predicted that artist contracts “will become much more specific in terms of conditional payment requirements” in the near future. He added:
The advent of the internet and the ability to put things online has brought about a dramatic change. It will take time to resolve this issue.