Celebrity Agent Defends Scarlett Johansson in Disney Altercation

Black Widow has a new ally. Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd of CAA (Creative Artists Agency) is Scarlett Johansson’s talent agent. He stepped into the public altercation between the movie star and Disney Friday over her paycheck, calling the company “shameless.” 

Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over her pay for ‘Black Widow’

Johansson filed papers in Los Angeles Thursday, alleging that Disney, which owns Marvel Entertainment, intentionally shortchanged her on a paycheck that depended largely on box office performance. Since Black Widow was ultimately released through Disney+ and theaters, she says she may have sustained a $50 million loss

“Disney knew that the cannibalization of [box office receipts] by Disney+ would save Marvel (and by extension, Disney) ‘very large’ amounts of money that it would otherwise owe Ms. Johansson,” the lawsuit stated. Furthermore, claimed the suit, Disney willfully and intentionally shortchanged Johansson by streaming the movie for $30 per viewing.

“On information and belief, Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel,” the filing stated. 

Disney accused Scarlett Johansson of being ‘insensitive’ about the Covid-19 pandemic 

Bryan Lourd at a podium
CAA’s Bryan Lourd speaks onstage during The Hollywood Reporter’s Power 100 Women in Entertainment event. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter

According to The Hollywood Reporter, within hours Disney promptly dismissed Scarlett Johansson’s claims as having “no merit” and attacked her character.  

”There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” read Disney’s statement. “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Disney 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 $20m she has received to date.”

On Friday, Johansson’s agent Bryan Lourd of legendary talent agency CAA came to Johansson’s defense, calling Disney “shameless” for questioning the Marriage Story actor’s character. The Hollywood Reporter obtained the complete statement. 

“They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t,” the statement read in part. 

Lourd also said the actions of Disney were surprising and unnecessary, and more specifically, “beneath them.” 

“Disney’s direct attack on her character and all else they implied is beneath the company that many of us in the creative community have worked with successfully for decades,” read the statement. 

The movie has made hundreds of millions so far 

$20 million may sound like a lot. But taken in the context of a steep gender pay gap in the industry and Disney and Marvel’s amount collected on the action flick so far, the suit seems inevitable. 

The Wall Street Journal, which initially broke the story Thursday, said that the actor and expectant mom stands to lose as much as $50 million. Meanwhile, Black Widow’s gross domestic box office was $80 million. Another $78 million for overseas sales and $60 million from streaming purchases through Disney+ (on opening weekend alone) dwarfs Johansson’s paycheck. Since she defined Black Widow as a character and is a huge draw for the franchise, her complaints appear to many to be valid. 

“Scarlett has been Disney’s partner on nine movies, which have earned Disney and its shareholders billions,” wrote Lourd. 

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