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Scarlett Johansson’s agent slams Disney over response

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Scarlett Johansson attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.

David Crotty | Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

“Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson’s powerhouse agent beat up Walt Disney on Friday for accusing the actor of “callous disregard” for the dangers of Covid-19 for cinema audiences.

Bryan Lourd, co-chair of talent agency giant CAA, also suggested Disney not play fair by publicly revealing Johansson’s $ 20 million salary for the Marvel Entertainment film. This number had not previously been publicly disclosed.

Lourd said Disney’s response to Johansson’s lawsuit was “an attempt to make her appear as someone she and I know she isn’t.”

Disney’s comment came hours after the “Black Widow” star filed a lawsuit against the company on Thursday alleging it was in breach of its contract by releasing the film on its streaming service Disney + while it was in theaters debuted.

“This filing has no merit,” said Disney. “The lawsuit is particularly sad and harrowing because it ignores the dire and ongoing global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Johansson, like many Marvel veterans including Robert Downey Jr., negotiated that a percentage of box office receipts be added to their salary. This has become increasingly common in Marvel Cinematic Universe films due to their theatrical track record.

The Oscar-nominated actress starred as Natasha Romanoff in eight Marvel films that have grossed more than $ 10.5 billion in global box office revenues over the past decade.

Only eight of Marvel’s 24 theatrical releases have grossed less than $ 700 million worldwide. And only three have secured less than $ 400 million. On average, these franchise films rake in nearly $ 1 billion worldwide over the course of their theatrical lives.

So far, “Black Widow” has grossed $ 150 million in cinemas in the first three weeks and a little more than $ 300 million worldwide. The $ 80 million domestic opening weekend remains the highest opening number of any movie released after March 2020, when many restrictions were hit on the Covid pandemic.

The movie’s streaming release sapped box-office profits, although Disney reported that “Black Widow” made $ 60 million in sales on Disney + on the opening weekend. The company has not disclosed any additional information about the film’s digital performance. Entertainment experts have also blamed the film’s rampant piracy for its steady decline in performance since its release.

While Disney’s decision to bring Black Widow to Disney + and in theaters on the same day and date was a strategic move based on pressure from the pandemic, it reportedly cost Johansson more than $ 50 million, the reported Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

Johansson’s lawsuit alleges the actress tried to renegotiate with Disney after finding out the film wouldn’t be exclusively in theaters, but the studio didn’t respond.

Disney officials did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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