The president of the Screen Actor’s Guild on Friday slammed Disney for “bullying” Marvel actress Scarlett Johansson in a public statement it made about the “Black Widow” star’s lawsuit against the company last week.
Gabrielle Carteris said Disney “should be ashamed” of its “gender-shaming” tactics, which suggested that the actor had a “callous disregard” for the dangers of Covid-19 to the moviegoing public.
“Actors must be compensated for their work according to their contracts,” she said in a statement. “Scarlett Johansson is shining a white-hot spotlight on the improper shifts in compensation that companies are attempting to slip by talent as distribution models change.”
Carteris, whose organization represents around 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists and performers across the media space, said that no one in any field of work should “fall victim to surprise reductions in expected compensation.”
She said that SAG is deeply concerned by the “gendered tone” of Disney’s response.
“Women are not ‘callous’ when they stand up and fight for fair pay – they are leaders and champions for economic justice,” she said. “Women have been victimized by pay inequity for decades, and they have been further victimized by comments like those in Disney’s press statements. These sorts of attacks have no place in our society and SAG-AFTRA will continue to defend our members from all forms of bias.”
Johansson filed a lawsuit against the company late last week, claiming Disney had breached her contract when it released “Black Widow” on its streaming service Disney+ at the same time it debuted in theaters.
Like many Marvel veterans including Robert Downey Jr., Johansson negotiated to have a percentage of box-office receipts tacked on to her salary. This has become increasingly common with Marvel Cinematic Universe films because of their theatrical track record.
The streaming release of the film ate into box-office profits, though Disney reported “Black Widow” scored $60 million from sales on Disney+ during its opening weekend. Globally, the film has tallied just under $350 million in theatrical ticket sales, one of the lowest hauls of any Marvel film to date.
In her lawsuit, Johansson purports that the shift to offering “Black Widow” on Disney+, while predominantly done for the safety of the public, cost her a $50 million payout.
“Disney and other content companies are doing very well and can certainly live up to their obligations to compensate the performers whose art and artistry are responsible for the corporation’s profits,” SAG’s Carteris said Friday.
Disney responded to Johansson’s lawsuit last week, saying it had “no merit whatsoever” and “has fully complied with” her contract. The company also disclosed that the star had been paid $20 million and could see a cut from sales on Disney+. It is not typical for companies to share compensation information.