Disney decides to avoid “Black Widow” trial

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Disney has filed a motion to settle a lawsuit brought by “Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson behind closed doors.

The motion was filed Friday afternoon in Los Angeles Superior Court by Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli. In documents obtained by USA TODAY, Petrocelli argued that the contract between Disney and Periwinkle Entertainment Inc., the company representing Johansson, included an agreement to settle any dispute through “binding arbitration” in New York.

Disney’s arbitration claim is the company’s first filing in the case since Johansson filed a lawsuit on July 29, alleging that his contract with Marvel was severed when “Black Widow” was released on the Disney streaming service. + at the same time as in cinemas.

In Friday’s filing, Disney argued that the complaint filed by Johansson and Periwinkle Entertainment had “no merit.”

“There is nothing in the agreement requiring that a ‘wide theatrical release’ also be an ‘exclusive’ theatrical release,” Petrocelli wrote.

Petrocelli cited the box office figures, noting that the combined opening weekend revenue from ticket sales at theaters and Disney + Premiere Access revenue totaled more than $ 135 million. This overtook other Marvel Cinematic Universe films released before the pandemic, including “Thor: The Dark World,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Petrocelli wrote.

“Disney is now, as expected, trying to hide its misconduct in confidential arbitration,” Johansson’s attorney John Berlinski told USA TODAY in a statement. “Why is Disney so afraid to argue this case in public?”

Berlinski and his team “can’t wait” to present evidence to prove Disney’s alleged wrongdoing, he said.

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After Johansson filed his complaint, a statement from Disney called the prosecution “particularly sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Bryan Lourd, co-chair of the Creative Artists Agency and agent for Johansson, responded to Disney, saying the company “shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being unresponsive to the global COVID pandemic.” The response was “a direct attack on his character,” Lourd said.

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The first hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

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