Scarlett Johansson sued Disney for breach of contract in July after the company made Black Widow available on Disney+ at the same time as theaters

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Jamie Lee Curtis Defends Scarlett Johansson
Credit: Getty (2)

Curtis, 62, wrote a piece honoring Johansson, 36, for being named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People, where she threw her support behind the actress and accused Disney of using "manipulation."

The actress, who played Black Widow for a decade before retiring from the role in June, sued Disney in July, alleging the company breached its contract with her by releasing Black Widow on the Disney+ streaming service (with Premier Access) at the same time it hit theaters.

In the blurb, Curtis began by writing, "I always felt a kinship with Scarlett Johansson because she was born on my birthday, in the year I was married."

Curtis then praised the actress for the way she portrayed her mother, Janet Leigh, in the 2012 movie Hitchcock before outlining the year Johansson has had.

"I recently watched her own the screen as the Black Widow, who exacts revenge on a powerful figure who manipulates (emphasis on man) women to fight for him," Curtis wrote. "And then I saw her brilliant response to a real-life manipulation (same emphasis), when she filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the studio, alleging its decision to release the film simultaneously in theaters and on streaming cost her substantial losses in pay."

"Whether as an assassin with a conscience, an actor with an emotional center or, having just given birth to her second child, a fierce mother, the message is clear: Don't f---- with this mama bear," Curtis concluded.

Johansson's Avengers costars Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen have also supported the star in her lawsuit, as well as several other prominent figures in Hollywood.

Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow (2021)
| Credit: Film Frame/Marvel Studios 2020

In citing manipulation, Curtis likely refers to Disney's statement accusing Johansson of having a "callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic."

"While we take no position on the business issues in the litigation between Scarlett Johansson and The Walt Disney Company, we stand firmly against Disney's recent statement which attempts to characterize Johansson as insensitive or selfish for defending her contractual business rights," Women in Film, Los AngelesReFrame and TIME'S UP  wrote.

"This gendered character attack has no place in a business dispute and contributes to an environment in which women and girls are perceived as less able than men to protect their own interests without facing ad hominem criticism," the statement concluded. 

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War
Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016

In the suit, Johansson claims her contract with Disney's Marvel Entertainment was for a guaranteed exclusive movie theater release and that her salary largely depended on the film's box office performance. (Disney took in $372.3 million worldwide, including $67 million from Disney+, according to Box Office Mojo.)

"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 suit said.

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A Walt Disney Company spokesperson later released a statement blasting the lawsuit as meritless and claiming Disney had fully complied with Johansson's contract.

"The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement said.

The spokesperson also argued that the release of Black Widow on Disney+ had "significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date."