Disney tries to keep away from the Black Widow trial
Disney has filed a closed-door settlement motion from Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson.
The motion was filed Friday afternoon by Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli in the Los Angeles Superior Court. In documents received from USA TODAY, Petrocelli argued that the contract between Disney and Periwinkle Entertainment Inc., the company that Johansson represents, included a dispute settlement agreement through “binding arbitration” in New York City.
Disney’s arbitration request is the company’s first filing since Johansson filed a lawsuit on July 29th alleging that their contract with Marvel was breached when Black Widow entered the Disney + streaming service at the same time Cinemas was released.
In Friday’s filing, Disney argued that the complaint filed by Johansson and Periwinkle Entertainment had “no merit”.
“There is nothing in the agreement that requires a ‘wide theatrical release’ to be an ‘exclusive’ theatrical release,” Petrocelli wrote.
Quoting box office numbers, Petrocelli noted that theatrical ticket sales and Disney + Premiere Access revenues combined totaled over $ 135 million on the opening weekend. That outperformed other Marvel Cinematic Universe films released before the pandemic, including Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Guardians of the Galaxy, Petrocelli wrote.
“Disney is now trying, as predictably, to hide its misconduct in confidential arbitration,” Johansson’s attorney John Berlinski told USA TODAY in a statement. “Why is Disney so afraid to open this case?”
Berlinski and his team look forward to providing evidence of Disney’s alleged wrongdoing, he said.
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After Johansson filed her complaint, a statement from Disney called the lawsuit “particularly sad and troubling in its callous disregard for the dire and ongoing global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Bryan Lourd, co-chair of the Creative Artists Agency and Johansson’s agent, responded to Disney, saying the company had “shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic”. The reaction was “a direct attack on her character,” said Lourd.
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The first hearing on the case is scheduled for October 15 in the Los Angeles Superior Court.