Disney says it found ways to compensate talent in the wake of 'Black Widow' lawsuit


Engadget 13 August, 2021 - 02:07am 17 views

Did Scarlett Johansson sue Disney plus?

"Distribution decisions are made on a film-by-film basis," Chapek said. ... Johansson -- who stars as Natasha Romanoff in the latest Marvel film -- is suing Disney for intentional interference with contractual relations and for inducing breach of contract. Entertainment TonightDisney CEO Defends Disney+ Releases Following Scarlett Johansson's 'Black Widow' Lawsuit

Disney earnings exceed expectations as parks reopen and Disney+ grows

CNN 13 August, 2021 - 07:00pm

By Matt Donnelly

Disney CEO Bob Chapek is doubling down on his film studio’s decision to release Marvel’s “Black Widow” in theaters and on Disney Plus at the same time.

Speaking on a Thursday earnings call with investors, Chapek grazed the company’s ongoing salary drama with actor Scarlett Johansson. The on-screen superhero sued Disney last month, saying she was deprived of millions in compensation she would have earned if the film was given an exclusive theatrical run.

Bob Iger and I, along with the distribution team, determined this was the right strategy to enable us to reach the broadest possible audience,” Chapek said in his opening remarks, invoking his predecessor during a reverent speech about DIsney’s ongoing commitment to storytelling.

The newly minted Disney CEO also made a point of depicting the Johansson legal fight as an anomaly.

“Since COVID, we’ve entered into hundreds of arrangements with talent…by and large they’ve gone smoothly,” Chapek said.

He also suggested that when Disney has had to alter its release plans for movies, it has come up with ways to reward stars whose bonuses were tied to box office performance. That was a sticking point for Johansson, who claims the simultaneous release of “Black Widow” depressed ticket sales. But it was a conflict that Disney is believed to have avoided with “The Jungle Cruise” star Dwayne Johnson by changing his compensation structure when the film also bowed on the streaming service at the same time it debuted in theaters.

“We’ve figured out ways to fairly compensate our talent so that no matter what the business model … everybody feels satisfied,” Chapek said.

Chapek said decisions on release strategies will be “made on film by film basis based on global marketplace conditions and consumer behavior,” adding that his team will take a bespoke approach to each individual project to do “what’s best for the movie and our constituents.”

While it’s unsurprising that Chapek would bring Disney elder statesman Iger into the conversation, given his decades-long relationships with top talent and ongoing role as executive chairman, this is the first time Iger has been mentioned since Johansson filed suit in late July. Earlier this summer, Variety reported that the once-warm relationship between Chapek and Iger had cooled in the days following a major reorganization that placed significant power in Disney’s media and entertainment distribution group.

“We’ve said from the very beginning that we value flexibility in being able to make as last minute calls as we can,” Chapek told one analyst when asked when all upcoming Disney releases will not see day-and-date premieres. Both Ryan Reynolds’ “Free Guy” and the latest Marvel title “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will exclusively premiere in theaters before heading to VOD.

Chapek said that planning in the age of COVID-19 has been challenging, especially as consumer confidence in returning to movie theaters has waned recently, upending distribution strategies executed only months ago.

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4 Ways Black Widow Is The Best Female Led Superhero Movie (& 4 It's WW84)

Screen Rant 13 August, 2021 - 07:00pm

Like the Wonder Woman sequel, WW84Black Widow made some improvements in the way women are represented in superhero movies. Both movies certainly have their flaws, both in the plot and the message of empowerment they deliver, but the little they achieved goes a long way in redefining women in film.

As a female-led superhero movie, it was only fitting for women to take center stage rather than be relegated to the background of the story. WW84 had a similar approach but Black Widow took it up a notch by having a storyline primarily focused on women as well and giving them back their free will.

Too often, the portrayal of female empowerment is stereotyped to show women who are strong, powerful, successful, unflawed, and are never wrong. But that is not realistic. In WW84, Diana faces a moral dilemma that's as realistic as possible in a movie with immortals and the dead coming back to life when she has to choose between saving everyone else or keeping Steve (Chris Pine). It is a selfish choice and she knows and admits it, but it humanizes her and she does the right thing in the end.

In freeing them from this, Black Widow highlights the importance of women having the right to do what they want and choose who they want to be. The touching storyline around Natasha's "family" dynamics also added an emotional aspect to the film about the importance of family and letting children have a safe, normal, and secure childhood.

The harassment Barbara experienced is, sadly, something many women face on a regular basis. In the movie, it was the catalyst for Barbara's wish that eventually led to her becoming a villain. But, it also highlighted an important issue that women everywhere deal with every day and that made the movie a bit more relatable to its target audience as they could identify with and understand the character.

The common formula consists of a powerful item capable of destroying civilization or the universe that lands in the hands of the villain, and the hero fighting them to get it back. Avengers: Endgame had that with the infinity stones and WW84 followed this format with the Dreamstone, but Black Widow strayed slightly and provided something unique. It has great action scenes, befitting of a superhero movie, balanced with a deep dive into family dynamics and the human being behind the superhero. Although Black Widow shifts back to the MCU formula in the third act with an explosive battle scene, it's still refreshingly different.

One of the strongest gender stereotypes is the belief that women are more emotional and that renders them irrational. WW84 shows this with Diana who initially refused to make the rational choice to renounce her wish and prevent earth's destruction. In the film's third act, she finally makes the sacrifice, showing that she was able to rise above her conflicted emotions and make a decision that was best for everyone. In contrast, Barbara's anger causes her to wild her powers in a destructive manner, showing two sides of the coin.

The movie did not bring attention to the women's looks at any point. Even minute details like the outfits they wore showed this shift as Natasha, Yelena, Melina (Rachel Weisz), and the other widows all wore outfits that were still good-looking but were primarily functional and fitting for their action scenes.

In a touching (and a little cheesy) speech, Diana pleaded with everyone to renounce their wish. As Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and many others renounced their wishes, giving up their personal gains, the world returned to normal. This extends the responsibility of doing what's right beyond one woman's sacrifice and also shows that everyone has the power to make the world a better place.

Disney bullish on parks despite Delta

Reuters 13 August, 2021 - 07:00pm

Disney wins this round: Here's where the streaming giants stand at the end of earnings season

CNBC 13 August, 2021 - 07:00pm

This round, Disney beat Netflix.

Disney's continued growth, juxtaposed with a disappointing quarter for Netflix, was the big story of this quarter's earnings season.

Disney benefited from a handful of popular movies, including "Cruella" and "Luca," that it placed directly on its Disney+ service in the quarter ended June 30, while Netflix is banking on a return to growth next quarter, when hit originals such as "Sex Education" and "Money Heist" return to the service.

Disney+ and Hotstar, Disney's Indian streaming service, added 12.4 million new subscribers since last quarter, while Netflix added just 1 million new customers. Last quarter, Disney added almost 9 million new Disney+ subscribers and Netflix added about 4 million new customers.

"Last quarter, we had a little bit of weakness in streaming subs both at Netflix and Disney. The weakness continued for Netflix, but it didn't for Disney," Mark Zgutowicz, an analyst at Rosenblatt Equity Research, said in a CNBC interview. "Disney+ is about 90 million subs behind Netflix globally now. With this number today, it's tracking toward a 20 million net add gain on Netflix this year."

All of the big streaming video players have reported earnings this quarter. The following is a rundown of where all the major streaming services stand:

Apple's free one-year trials to Apple TV+, which it gives away with new hardware such as iPhones, are now starting to expire for many customers, which could spur the company to offer an update on its next earnings call.

Comcast's NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC, successfully used the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo to push Peacock subscriptions. NBCUniversal will likely add more Olympics-related sign-ups next quarter, as it reported Peacock statistics only about halfway through the Games.

While the company has not released an official figure for ARPU yet, NBCUniversal estimated in January that Peacock would deliver $6 to $7 a month across its three tiers.

AT&T raised its year-end global subscriber forecast for HBO Max to 73 million from 70 million in its second-quarter earnings statement. As of March, it expects 120 million to 150 million subscribers by the end of 2025.

Average revenue per user remains a question mark for ViacomCBS, which has still chosen not to reveal the statistic.

"We've been on a journey of increased disclosure over time," ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish told CNBC. "We will continue to evolve disclosure."

Lionsgate's Starz actually lost total subscribers in the quarter, though the decline relates to cancellations of the company's linear service. Streaming customers rose 58% year over year to 16.7 million globally.

AMC Networks said earlier this month it expects to have at least 9 million paid streaming subscribers across its platforms by the end of the year. The company's flagship streaming product is AMC+, which may see a boost in subscribers after Verizon announced a deal with the company earlier this month that gives certain subscribers a free trial of the product for 6 or 12 months.

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