The latest salvo in the legal battle between Scarlett Johansson and Disney sees the star's legal team accusing the studio of misogyny and implying that the corporation has something to hide. In response to Disney's attempt to move the highly-publicized lawsuit into arbitration, which would take place behind closed doors, Johansson's team released a statement suggesting that the Marvel Studios parent company is trying to cover up its poor behavior in handling the release of Black Widow and in earlier responses to Johansson's lawsuit. The statement calls those early responses "mysognistic" and shows that Johansson and her team see the arbitration motion as Disney's attempt at damage control.
"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," John Berlinski, Johansson's attorney, said Saturday. "Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public? Because it knows that Marvel's promises to give Black Widow a typical theatrical release 'like its other films' had everything to do with guaranteeing that Disney wouldn't cannibalize box office receipts in order to boost Disney+ subscriptions. Yet that is exactly what happened – and we look forward to presenting the overwhelming evidence that proves it."
Late Friday night, Disney filed a motion in Los Angeles Superior Cout to compel arbitration over the matter in New York. Echoing previous comments from the studio, the motion essentially accuses Johansson's team of orchestrating the lawsuit like a publicity stunt.
"Periwinkle agreed that all claims 'arising out of, in connection with, or relating to' Scarlett Johansson's acting services for Black Widow would be submitted to confidential, binding arbitration in New York," reads the statement filed by lawyers Daniel Petrocelli, Leah Godesky, and Tim Heafner of O'Melveny & Myers LLP on behalf of Disney. "Whether Periwinkle's claims against Disney fall within the scope of that agreement is not a close call: Periwinkle's interference and inducement claims are premised on Periwinkle's allegation that Marvel breached the contract's requirement that any release of Black Widow include a 'wide theatrical release' on 'no less than 1,500 screens. The plain and expansive language of the arbitration agreement easily encompasses Periwinkle's Complaint.
"In a futile effort to evade this unavoidable result (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," they lash out. "But longstanding principles do not permit such gamesmanship."
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