Disney Trying to Move Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow Lawsuit To Closed-Door Arbitration
Disney is reportedly trying to move Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow lawsuit to closed-door arbitration. Disney reportedly pulled the move late Friday night to push the case into a more private setting - something that ScarJo and her legal team clearly don't want, as they used the public and the media to initially get the ball rolling on this lawsuit. And it certainly has worked: ScarJo and her case have become something of a lightning rod for the entire entertainment industry, and its state of evolution after the COVID-19 pandemic. So what could Disney achieve by privatizing the conversation? A lot, actually.
In the motion, Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli accused Scarlett Johansson and her team of you the public sphere to sway the case:
"In a futile effort to evade [arbitration] (and generate publicity through a public filing), Periwinkle excluded Marvel as a party to this lawsuit––substituting instead its parent company Disney under contract-interference theories."
Of course, ScarJo's legal team has fired back:
"After initially responding to this litigation with a misogynistic attack against Scarlett Johansson, Disney is now, predictably, trying to hide its misconduct in a confidential arbitration."
As stated, right now Scarlett Johansson and her legal team have gained a lot of momentum from having this Black Widow lawsuit with Disney out in the public sphere. The news that the lawsuit was happening sparked an entire cultural debate about the current status of Hollywood after the pandemic. Movie theater chains are teetering while streaming services have jumped ahead in grabbing market share as the go-to venue for blockbuster TV/movie content. How actors and other creators get paid in this evolving model of the business is an ongoing discussion - now turned to an ongoing legal battle.
ScarJo case is an easy poster-child for the cold war between studios and talent right now; Black Widow was a major theatrical release from the biggest movie franchise around, starring the biggest actress in the world - and its also the biggest film to be shuffled around because of the pandemic, releasing on Disney+ Premiere Access the same time as theaters. The legality of that reshuffle is what the legal discrepancy is all about - and the outcome of this case could set the precedent for what the rest of the industry does afterward when it comes to contract negotiations.
...Therein lies the best reason for Disney to take this case behind closed doors. If the studio takes the case out of the public eye, there's a much better chance for this to go from being a figurehead case for the industry to a case of an actor getting slipped some money to quietly walk away. Once the ScarJo Black Widow lawsuit is out of sight, mind, and headlines, the studio could conceivably work things out with the actress and get to that magic number that will end things - without the press and/or Internet weighing in on each round of negotiation and each offer exchanged, causing even more of a PR storm for the studio.