Why Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow Lawsuit May Be Losing Its Judge

Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit against Walt Disney Studios has already been a heated topic with both sides going back and forth at each other in the press. It makes one wonder just will happen when this all actually gets in front of a judge. However, that may now take a bit longer than anticipated, as the judge on the case has now offered to recuse himself from the case due to a potential conflict of interest.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert S. Draper is the man currently overseeing Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit against Walt Disney Studios, which claims that Disney was in breach of her contract when it released the Black Widow movie on Disney+ at the same time it was available in theaters. According to Spectrum News, the judge is now offering to step aside because, prior to being appointed as a judge, he was a partner at the law firm of O'Melveny & Meyers LLP, which is a firm that currently represents The Walt Disney Company. The judge still receives a pension from that position.

If both parties want to keep Judge Draper, they can file a joint agreement by September 10, otherwise the recusal will take effect and the case will be reassigned. It's unclear at this point what either party thinks of the recusal. While there may certainly be a valid reason for Scarlett Johansson's side to want another judge, the legal team will also need to weigh the other judges that could be assigned the case against the one they already have.

Of course, there are other reasons that this lawsuit might never see much of a courtroom. Disney is already arguing that this case should be dealt with in arbitration rather than with a lawsuit, so the first order of business for the judge, whether it is this one or another, will likely to be to determine if this lawsuit even moves forward in its current form.

Scarlett Johansson's contract was reportedly weighted strongly toward paying her bonuses if Black Widow hit certain box office benchmarks, something that was made difficult when the movie was given a release on Disney+ at the same time it opened in theaters. Johansson's side claims that attempts to renegotiate the deal were ignored by Disney.

Assuming that there isn't a joint agreement worked out before September 10, this likely means that the case will be at a standstill until that deadline passes and a new judge is given the case. So it will be probably several weeks before a decision is made on Disney's desire for arbitration. Of course, since the publicity in this case is huge, and not necessarily good, it's also possible that we could see some sort of settlement reached out of court before this gets much further.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.