Disney CEO Bob Chapek has spoken out on the ongoing concerns actors and filmmakers have with studios amid the Covid-19 pandemic and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit.
Earlier this year, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow was released with positive reviews and a fantastic box office opening. Unfortunately, for reasons that are still being debated, the film did not sustain its box office numbers, clearing just under $378M worldwide, making it the lowest-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe film in over a decade. Some believed that the emergence of the Delta variant of Covid-19 kept people out of theaters while others believed that it was the decision to release the film on Disney Plus at the same time as it was released in theaters. Regardless of the cause, Johansson is currently suing Disney over the Disney Plus release claiming breach of contract.
Since then various actors like Elizabeth Olsen have come out in support of Scarlett Johansson’s actions against Disney. The lawsuit has also made Avengers: Endgame directors The Russo Brothers think twice about directing another Marvel film. Regardless of how this lawsuit turns out, it has made the people at Disney think twice about how they’ll handle their deals with talent in the future.
During Goldman Sachs’ 30th annual Communacopia Conference, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was asked about how the company was planning on dealing with compensation issues amid the pandemic. Actors and directors will often be promised a share of the box office profits as part of their compensation and the pandemic has already disrupted this model. Chapek didn’t lay out how they were planning to address this but assured those at the conference that they were trying to figure it out:
“Disney has had a long history of having very symbiotic and cooperative deals with the talent and we will continue to.
We’re in a moment of time where films were envisioned under one understanding about what the world would be, because frankly it hadn’t changed much.
Remember, those films were made three or four years ago; those deals were cut three or four years ago. Then they get launched in the middle of a global pandemic where that pandemic itself is accelerating a second dynamic, which is this changing consumer behavior. So we’re sort of putting a square peg in a round hole right now where we’ve got a deal conceived under a certain set of conditions, that actually results in a movie that is being released in a completely different set of conditions.
So there’s a bit of rest going on right now. Ultimately, we’ll think about that as we do our future talent deals and plan for that and make sure that’s incorporated. But right now we have this sort of middle position, where we’re trying to do right by the talent, I think the talent is trying to do right by us, and we’re just figuring out our way to bridge the gap. Ultimately we believe our talent is our most important asset, and we’ll continue to believe that, and as we always have, we’ll compensate them fairly per the terms of the contract that they agreed to us with.”
Here is the synopsis for Black Widow:
In Marvel Studios’ action-packed spy thriller “Black Widow,” Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.
Directed by Cate Shortland from a script written by Eric Pearson based on a story by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson, the Marvel film stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, Olga Kurylenko, Ray Winstone, Olivier Richters, and Rachel Weisz.
The film is out now in theaters and Disney Plus via Premiere Access. Stay tuned for all the latest news on Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit with Disney and be sure to subscribe to Heroic Hollywood’s YouTube channel for more original video content.