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.