Elizabeth Olsen Weighs In on Scarlett Johansson's Disney Lawsuit

During a talk with Vanity Fair, Elizabeth Olsen was asked about the impact COVID-19 has had on movie releases. Read her answer and her thoughts on Scarlett Johansson lawsuit against Disney.

By Elyse Dupre Aug 23, 2021 1:01 PMTags
Watch: Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over "Black Widow" Release

Elizabeth Olsen is showing her support for Scarlett Johansson.

As new details emerge about the Black Widow star's lawsuit against Disney, fellow Avenger Olsen shared her thoughts on the legal battle. The topic came up during a discussion with Jason Sudeikis for Vanity Fair's Awards Insider series Reunited. At one point, Olsen and Sudeikis—who both star on hit streaming series and have also acted in big theatrical films—were asked if they had any concerns about the theatrical experience and the way COVID-19 has changed the way movies are released, with the interviewer pointing to Johansson's lawsuit and the release of her film Black Widow on Disney+. 

"I'm worried about a bunch of things," Olsen replied. "Not worried on Scarlett's behalf. But I'm worried about small movies getting the opportunity to be seen in theaters. That was already a thing pre-COVID."

The WandaVision actress explained she enjoys going to movie theaters and that she doesn't want Oscar contenders and big blockbusters to be the only choices viewers have when they go there.

Marvel's The Avengers: Then and Now

"I would like to see art films and art house theaters," she added. "And so I do worry about that, and people having to keep these theaters alive. And I don't know how financially that works for these theaters. I do hope that there's some sort of solution that the larger companies are coming together to keep, at least in L.A. this is going to happen. But I do think it's going to be how it kind of used to be when studios owned theaters. And I have a feeling that we might go back to that being the only way to keep them alive with such expensive real estate."

As for the actor compensation side of things, Olsen seemed to point to one thing: "But when it comes to actors and their earnings, I mean, that's just, that's just all contracts," she continued. "So it's either in the contract or it's not."

And in terms of Johansson's situation? "I think she's so tough," Olsen, who appeared in the Avengers films with the two-time Oscar nominee, said, "and literally when I read that I was like, 'Good for you Scarlett.'"

Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images, Phillip Faraone/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Last month, Johansson filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company, accusing the organization of intentional interference with contractual relations and inducing breach of contract. She alleged her contract was breached when The Walt Disney Company simultaneously released Black Widow on Disney+ and in theaters and accused the company of depriving her of potential earnings.

"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," her attorney John Berlinski said in a statement to E! News. "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."

A spokesperson for Disney 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," the spokesperson continued. "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."

Watch: Scarlett Johansson Gives Birth to 1st Baby With Colin Jost

Johansson's agent Bryan Lourd, Co-Chairman of the Creative Artists Agency, then fired back at Disney's response, calling it a "direct attack on her character" and "beneath the company."

"They have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic, in an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn't," he said in part. "Scarlett has been Disney's partner on nine movies, which have earned Disney and its shareholders billions. The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of."

The lawsuit remains ongoing as Disney filed a motion earlier this month seeking to have the lawsuit decided through private arbitration proceedings.

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