Producer Jason Blum Shows Support for 'Really Brave' Scarlett Johansson amid Black Widow Lawsuit
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, published Wednesday, the Blumhouse founder and CEO said the lawsuit is "a much bigger existential fight that she's really leading."
"It's a very difficult thing to do, it's really brave to do and she's fighting for all of talent," Blum, 52, said of the actress.
Johansson, 36, sued Disney last week in Los Angeles, alleging the company breached her contract when it released Black Widow on its Disney+ streaming service at the same time that it was released in movie theaters.
In the lawsuit obtained by PEOPLE, Johansson said her Black Widow contract with Disney's Marvel Entertainment was for a guaranteed exclusive movie-theater release, with the bulk of her salary depending in large part on the film's box-office performance.
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In Disney's following statement, after the filing was made public, a spokesperson for the company said, "There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. 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," the statement continued.
Johansson's attorney John Berlinski said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, "It's no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company's stock price — and that it's hiding behind COVID-19 as a pretext to do so. But ignoring the contracts of the artists responsible for the success of its films in furtherance of this short-sighted strategy violates their rights and we look forward to proving as much in court."
"This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts," Berlinski's statement added.
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In his interview with THR, Blum said he believes streaming platforms "are betting on" a scenario in which "in the next three to five years, there will only be three or four [of them] left pumping content into homes."
"And they'll be so powerful that they will be able to push the price down of producing, of paying talent, of paying producers, of paying writers, directors," he added. "I personally don't think they'll be able to do it, but that's what they're betting on."
Johansson has starred as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow since 2010's Iron Man 2 and has since been an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically the company's Avengers films. Black Widow was Johansson's first spinoff film involving her character, who died in 2019's Avengers: Endgame.
Black Widow, which debuted July 9, earned $80 million at the U.S. box office in its opening weekend and $78 million at the global box office. It raked in another $60 million from Disney+ Premier $30 rental fees.