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SAG-AFTRA President Has Now Weighed In On Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow Lawsuit

Scarlett Johansson’s legal battle with The Walt Disney Company is one of the hottest topics in Hollywood right now. The lawsuit, which stems from the simultaneous theatrical/streaming release of Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, has been contentious and could have major ramifications for the industry moving forward. Johansson’s decision to sue the company has also garnered a number of responses from people across the entertainment industry. SAG-AFTRA’s president has now become the latest to speak out on the situation.

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris had nothing but praise for Scarlett Johansson when she recently commented on the actress’ legal battle. Cateris’ statement (released via Deadline) also took The Walt Disney Company, saying that the corporation should be able to “live up to their obligations to compensate the performers”:

Disney should be ashamed of themselves for resorting to tired tactics of gender-shaming and bullying. Actors must be compensated for their work according to their contracts. Scarlett Johansson is shining a white-hot spotlight on the improper shifts in compensation that companies are attempting to slip by talent as distribution models change. Nobody in any field of work should fall victim to surprise reductions in expected compensation. It is unreasonable and unjust. Disney and other content companies are doing very well and can certainly live up to their obligations to compensate the performers whose art and artistry are responsible for the corporation’s profits.

Scarlett Johansson is specifically suing Disney on the grounds of breach of contract. Her lawsuit alleges that her original contract for Black Widow did not incorporate specifics for a potential streaming release. Per her contract, a large portion of Johansson’s pay was meant to come from the money the movie earned at the box office. While the film got off to a strong start, it saw a sharp drop during its second weekend. Johansson’s lawsuit claims she is owed tens of millions of dollars, but The Walt Disney Company has claimed that she had already been paid $20 million and that her lawsuit has “no merit whatsoever.”

Gabrielle Cateris also took aim at the language Disney used when responding to Scarlett Johansson. The SAG-AFTRA head perceived the response as taking specific aim at the Oscar nominee’s gender:

Additionally, we are deeply concerned by the gendered tone of Disney’s criticism of Ms. Johansson. Women are not ‘callous’ when they stand up and fight for fair pay – they are leaders and champions for economic justice. Women have been victimized by pay inequity for decades, and they have been further victimized by comments like those in Disney’s press statements. These sorts of attacks have no place in our society and SAG-AFTRA will continue to defend our members from all forms of bias.

Aside from Gabrielle Cateris, CAA, the talent agency Scarlett Johansson belongs to, also spoke out in defense of the actress. The company claimed that Disney “shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic” while making her case. Johansson has also received support from Blumhouse Productions CEO Jason Blum and Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd.

There’s currently no telling how the legal situation between Scarlett Johansson and Disney will ultimately be resolved, but industry analysts will likely continue to weigh in on the matter as things continue to unfold. Be sure to stick with CinemaBlend for more updates on the situation as they arrive.

Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.