Disney Attorney Calls Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” Lawsuit a “PR Campaign”

Scarlett Johansson’s legal battle with Disney over Black Widow revenues has more twists and turns than the film itself. According to Variety, Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli has called Johansson’s lawsuit a “highly orchestrated PR campaign.”

It is obvious that this is a highly orchestrated PR campaign to achieve an outcome that is not obtainable in the lawsuit. No amount of public pressure can change or obscure the explicit contractual commitments. The written contract is clear as a bell.

Disney Attorney Daniel Petrocelli

In essence, Petrocelli believes that the studio’s contract with Johansson is iron-clad. In his opinion, Johansson is trying to use the court of public opinion to force a financial settlement.


According to Petrocelli, Disney fulfilled all of its contractual requirements. Black Widow premiered on more than 9,000 screens in the United States; Johansson’s contract called for a minimum of 1,500 domestic screens.

The Johansson suit alleges that the actress lost income because Black Widow was available on Disney+ for those with Premier Access. Petrocelli says that the Disney+ distribution actually helped Johansson.

We treated Disney Premier Access (revenue) like box office for the purposes of the bonus requirements in the contract. That only enhanced the economics for Ms. Johansson.

Disney Attorney Daniel Petrocelli

Shortly after news of the lawsuit broke, Disney called the suit “sad and distressing.” Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige appears to have sided with Johansson. Insiders are blaming Disney CEO Bob Chapek for the situation.

Petrocelli also mentioned that the lawsuit is indicative of changes in the industry. With distribution methods such as streaming services, actors and studios will likely change contract language in the future.

“There’s a sea change because of the advent of the internet and the ability to put things out online. This will take time to resolve,” Petrocelli said.

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