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Scarlett Johansson's Agent Accuses Disney of Attempting to 'Weaponize Her Success' amid Lawsuit

·4-min read
Marvel Studios' Black Widow
Marvel Studios' Black Widow

Marvel Entertainment Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow

The disagreement between Scarlett Johansson and Disney is getting heated.

The actress's agent, Bryan Lourd, released a fiery statement on Friday, saying the company "shamelessly and falsely" accused the actress "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," in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. Deadline first reported the news.

Lourd's statement comes in response to Disney's statement on Thursday in which the company called Johansson's lawsuit against it "sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic." The company also stated the actress had received $20 million "to date" in compensation.

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The CAA agent, who is the father of actress Billie Lourd, said in his statement, "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," Lourd wrote. "Scarlett is extremely proud of the work that she, and all of the actors, writers, directors, producers, and the Marvel creative team have been a part of for well over a decade."

A spokesperson for Disney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

RELATED: Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over Black Widow's Streaming Release, Alleges Breach of Contract

"This suit was filed as a result of Disney's decision to knowingly violate Scarlett's contract," Lourd continued. "They have very deliberately moved the revenue stream and profits to the Disney+ side of the company, leaving artistic and financial partners out of their new equation. That's it, pure and simple."

He added, "Disney's direct attack on her character and all else they implied is beneath the company that many of us in the creative community have worked with successfully for decades."

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson

Karwai Tang/Getty Scarlett Johansson

Johansson, 36, filed a lawsuit against Disney on Thursday in Los Angeles, alleging the conglomerate breached her contract when it released this summer's blockbuster 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.

"Disney intentionally induced Marvel's breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel," the suit said.

PEOPLE obtained a statement from Johansson's attorney John Berlinski. "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," the statement read.

RELATED VIDEO: 'Black Widow': See the Trailer for Scarlett Johansson's First Standalone Marvel Movie

"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," it continued.

In Disney's following statement on Thursday, after the filing was made public, a spokesperson for the company said, "There is no merit whatsoever to this filing."

"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 read.

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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.

Her character died in 2019's Avengers: Endgame. Black Widow was Johansson's first spinoff film involving her character.

Black Widow, which debuted on July 9, earned $80 million at the U.S. box office in its opening weekend and $78 million at the worldwide box office. It earned another $60 million from the Disney+ Premier $30 rental fees on the platform.

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