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Disney issues scathing response to Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow lawsuit

Disney blasted the breach of contract lawsuit filed against the company by Scarlett Johansson on Thursday, saying it has "no merit whatsoever" and is "especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic."

In her suit, Johansson says that because Disney released her Marvel film Black Widow in theaters and streaming on Disney+ at the same time, she lost out on millions in backend compensation; a person familiar with the terms of Johansson's contract told The Wall Street Journal this move cost her more than $50 million. 

Disney disagreed, saying in its statement that the company "has fully complied with Ms. Johansson's contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20 million she has received to date."

Black Widow's release was delayed several times because of the pandemic, and it finally hit theaters and Disney+ on July 9. Through ticket and streaming sales, Black Widow has made more than $319 million globally, which is on the low end for a Marvel movie. 

In a statement to Variety, Johansson's lawyer John Berlinski said it's "no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company's stock price — and that it's hiding behind COVID-19 as a pretext to do so. But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we can look forward to proving as much in court."