Insiders Blame Disney CEO Bob Chapek for Scarlett Johansson's "Black Widow" Lawsuit

Entertainment

wdwnt.com 02 August, 2021 - 05:12pm 53 views

While Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company has become a bitter public fight, select insiders say that Disney CEO Bob Chapek is squarely responsible for the current situation, according to The Wrap‘s Sharon Waxman.

Johansson is currently suing Disney over its simultaneous release of Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ through Premier Access, which she claims caused her to lose financial incentives tied to the film’s box-office earnings as was laid out in her contract. While the COVID-19 pandemic did play a part in Disney’s decision, Johansson asserts that Disney refused to renegotiate their deal after the decision for the hybrid release. Disney responded to the lawsuit, calling it “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The report, later reiterated by ScreenRant‘s Chris Agar, claims that “multiple insiders” blame Chapek’s inexperience with handling talent for letting things result in this suit, with one saying “he didn’t think it would blow up in his face.”

Gene Del Vecchio, an adjunct professor at the USC Marshall School of Business, described the difference between Chapek and his predecessor, Disney executive chairman Bob Iger as to how they approach talent:

Bob Iger was named CEO in 2005 not only due to his business acumen, but for his mastery of developing and keeping relationships that he had honed for dozens of years working with temperamental, high-profile stars. Disney’s acquisition and management of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucas are testimony to his ability. Chapek’s previous experience with Disney Consumer Products, Parks and Resorts did not demand the same level of star-charged interaction.

Reportedly, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has also been upset by the lawsuit, having allegedly fought against the simultaneous release, and wants to rectify the situation with Johansson.

As always, keep following WDWNT for all of your Disney Parks news, and for the absolute latest, follow WDW News Today on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Earlier, we reported that "Black Widow" star Scarlett Johansson had filed a lawsuit against Disney over the film's release. Disney has responded to the lawsuit publicly, according to Variety. The lawsuit alleges that by releasing the film on Disney+ simultaneously with the theatrical release, “Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of…

Scarlett Johansson, who plays Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has recently filed a lawsuit against Disney over her most recent outing as the super spy in this month's "Black Widow," Variety reports. The lawsuit alleges that by releasing the film on Disney+ simultaneously with the theatrical release,…

Yesterday, news broke that Scarlett Johansson, star of Marvel's Black Widow, was suing Disney for breach of contract. The lawsuit alleges that by releasing the film on Disney+ simultaneously with the theatrical release, "Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from…

Ehh, it’s a bad situation all around. On Johanssen’s side, yeah I would be angry that my paycheck was smaller but on Disney’s side, releasing it only to theaters would have been risky too since so many people are not going yet.

This will be settled out of court and Chapek will have learned an expensive lesson.

Read full article at wdwnt.com

Insiders Blame Disney CEO Bob Chapek for Scarlett Johansson's "Black Widow" Lawsuit - WDW News Today

TheWrap 02 August, 2021 - 05:12pm

While Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company has become a bitter public fight, select insiders say that Disney CEO Bob Chapek is squarely responsible for the current situation, according to The Wrap‘s Sharon Waxman.

Johansson is currently suing Disney over its simultaneous release of Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ through Premier Access, which she claims caused her to lose financial incentives tied to the film’s box-office earnings as was laid out in her contract. While the COVID-19 pandemic did play a part in Disney’s decision, Johansson asserts that Disney refused to renegotiate their deal after the decision for the hybrid release. Disney responded to the lawsuit, calling it “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The report, later reiterated by ScreenRant‘s Chris Agar, claims that “multiple insiders” blame Chapek’s inexperience with handling talent for letting things result in this suit, with one saying “he didn’t think it would blow up in his face.”

Gene Del Vecchio, an adjunct professor at the USC Marshall School of Business, described the difference between Chapek and his predecessor, Disney executive chairman Bob Iger as to how they approach talent:

Bob Iger was named CEO in 2005 not only due to his business acumen, but for his mastery of developing and keeping relationships that he had honed for dozens of years working with temperamental, high-profile stars. Disney’s acquisition and management of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucas are testimony to his ability. Chapek’s previous experience with Disney Consumer Products, Parks and Resorts did not demand the same level of star-charged interaction.

Reportedly, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has also been upset by the lawsuit, having allegedly fought against the simultaneous release, and wants to rectify the situation with Johansson.

As always, keep following WDWNT for all of your Disney Parks news, and for the absolute latest, follow WDW News Today on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Earlier, we reported that "Black Widow" star Scarlett Johansson had filed a lawsuit against Disney over the film's release. Disney has responded to the lawsuit publicly, according to Variety. The lawsuit alleges that by releasing the film on Disney+ simultaneously with the theatrical release, “Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of…

Scarlett Johansson, who plays Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has recently filed a lawsuit against Disney over her most recent outing as the super spy in this month's "Black Widow," Variety reports. The lawsuit alleges that by releasing the film on Disney+ simultaneously with the theatrical release,…

Yesterday, news broke that Scarlett Johansson, star of Marvel's Black Widow, was suing Disney for breach of contract. The lawsuit alleges that by releasing the film on Disney+ simultaneously with the theatrical release, "Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from…

Ehh, it’s a bad situation all around. On Johanssen’s side, yeah I would be angry that my paycheck was smaller but on Disney’s side, releasing it only to theaters would have been risky too since so many people are not going yet.

This will be settled out of court and Chapek will have learned an expensive lesson.

Disney Faces a String of Pros and Cons in Putting ‘Shang-Chi’ on Disney+ Premier Access

Observer 02 August, 2021 - 03:10pm

Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) in Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2021.

After the year-long game of musical chairs blockbuster release dates were forced to play during the pandemic, major studios may have believed they were done making tough decisions. Yet with the Delta variant causing COVID-numbers to skyrocket among the unvaccinated this summer, the film industry’s reprieve is proving to be temporary. This past weekend, Paramount Pictures pulled Clifford The Big Red Dog from its release schedule. On Monday morning, Sony released a new trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage that curiously left out a release date. (The film is currently scheduled for September 24.) The signs are troubling for a film industry attempting to slowly claw its way back to recovery.

This brings us to Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The martial arts superhero title is set for an exclusive theatrical release September 3 over the long Labor Day Weekend. But despite the increasingly loud chatter surrounding hybrid release, should Disney consider also releasing the movie via Disney+ Premier Access?

Since 2010, the June-July summer box office corridor has typically accounted for $2.5 billion in domestic ticket sales. This year, the two-month window only earned about $885 million. Year-to-date, the 2021 domestic box office is only about 15% behind 2020 in the same span, but roughly 75% behind 2019’s ticket sales. Around 15% of North American movie theaters remain closed as of this writing. All in all, the theatrical recovery to pre-COVID levels has been glacial at best and downright disastrous at worst.

Black Widow earned $60 million via Premier Access PVOD revenue in its opening weekend while Jungle Cruise earned $30 million, according to Disney. Shang-Chi would likely earn somewhere between those two numbers and Disney keeps 80% of Premier Access revenue as opposed to 50%-60% of domestic theatrical ticket sales. Due to COVID and the depressed box office numbers, one can argue that this is money Disney wouldn’t have otherwise made. It’s an additional revenue stream to help potentially prop up Shang-Chi.

One can just as easily argue that same-day availability is eating into the box office, particularly a film’s long-term earning potential. We’ll have to see how Jungle Cruise fares in its second frame this weekend. But Black Widow saw the steepest second-weekend drop (-68%) of any MCU film. While the Marvel flick was the fastest movie to surpass $150 million at the domestic box office in the pandemic (and currently stands at nearly $345 million worldwide), it’s on pace to be one of the lowest-grossing MCU entries ever. (Though it has not yet released in China, which is Marvel’s biggest overseas market.)

Premier Access also serves as a $30 purchase rather than a rental, which puts a ceiling on repeat theatrical viewings these films would otherwise generate. MCU films earn more than 96% of their entire domestic box office gross in the first 45 days of release, placing a greater emphasis on opening weekend numbers and strong weekly holds. Premier Access availability complicates that formula. It’s also worth noting that Disney has not released any further Premier Access figures for Black Widow following its debut.

In February 2019, then Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company was shifting to make direct-to-consumer business (i.e. streaming) its top priority. The Mouse House’s subsequent moves, such as feeding Disney+ a steady stream of big films from Mulan and Soul to Black Widow and Jungle Cruise, have supported that idea.

Disney+ reportedly boasts 110 million worldwide subscribers, but has seen its U.S. growth slow in the first half of 2021, according to The Information. Providing consumers with an abundance of flexible access and choice for a major Marvel movie is good business in the midst of a pandemic. It provides yet another reason for newcomers to subscribe and a blockbuster attraction for existing subscribers to engage with.

Disney stock rose 4% upon its announcement that Black Widow earned $60 million on Disney+, which roughly equated to 2 million unit purchases. Another successful outing would be expected to further bolster the company’s share price.

Despite reports that Marvel Studios was attempting to renegotiate talent contracts back in December in the case that COVID forced more hybrid releases, parent company Disney apparently did not feel the need to reach a middle-ground financial agreement with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow opened in both theaters and Disney+ Premier Access. (Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is reportedly frustrated with Disney’s approach.) The lack of compensation led Johansson to file a lawsuit against Disney, which has reportedly caused stars such as Emma Stone, Emily Blunt and Gerard Butler to rethink their own financial packages amid altered releases. Dwayne Johnson is reportedly not considering any legal action.

Neither Disney nor Warner Bros. should be blamed for opting into day-and-date releases during the pandemic. Yet WB failed to notify its top talent and collaborators and wound up paying tens of millions of dollars to buy out backends and make their talent feel whole. Failing to reach a mutually beneficial financial arrangement with Johansson, and then releasing a scathing statement in response to her lawsuit, sends a talent-alienating message to the industry.

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Scarlett Johansson Isn’t The Only Actor To Lose Out On A Streaming Shift

Screen Rant 02 August, 2021 - 11:58am

The controversy began to properly flare on July 29, when Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney, claiming that the company's decision to release Black Widow simultaneously in American movie theaters and on the Disney+ streaming service represented an act of interference in her contract with Marvel Studios. While the exact details of Johansson's contract have yet to be made public, she reportedly agreed to a lower set salary for doing the movie with the expectation of a bonus based upon a percentage of the box office earnings. However, with the movie being released simultaneously in theaters and through the Disney+ Premium Access option (where subscribers can see new movies as they open in theaters by paying an additional fee), Johansson is estimated to have lost up to $50 million in potential bonuses based on what Disney has made from streaming sales of Black Widow so far.

Disney was quick to fire back at Johansson, releasing a statement that denied her claims that her Black Widow contract had been violated. The statement further criticized Johansson for her "callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic." This move appears to have backfired dramatically, as many have stood up in support of Johansson and her claims, including Marvel Studios' president Kevin Feige. More, there are reportedly several other prominent actors who are now weighing their own options in suing Disney and other studios for failing to properly compensate them for their work and possibly trying to avoid paying them their promised bonuses.

Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit over her Black Widow contract points to a similar conflict. Johansson's original contract, written before the pandemic, was typical of its kind and comparable to the one given Robert Downey Jr. for Avengers: Endgame, where the actor agrees to be paid a bonus based on the box office receipts of the film, in exchange for taking a lower base salary. This often proves to be a better deal for popular actors in a studio franchise, and the bonuses earned by Robert Downey Jr more than doubled his earnings for his final performance as Tony Stark. However, when the film is released simultaneously in movie theaters and through a streaming service, it eats into the potential earnings of the actor whose contract is based upon box office performance rather than digital sales.

Some studios have taken steps to rectify this in order to do right by their employees, while still acknowledging the dangers posed by COVID-19 and allowing audiences a choice when it comes to how they view new movies. Gal Gadot, for instance, was given a $10 million dollar bonus to compensate the loss she would have taken on the back end of her original contract for Wonder Woman 1984, after Warner Bros. elected to simultaneously release the film in theaters and on HBO Max. The studio has reportedly taken similar steps with all the movies it has scheduled for simultaneous theatrical and streaming releases throughout 2021, paying over $250 million in total. Unfortunately, this consideration seems to be the exception rather than the rule, and now many other actors are following Scarlett Johansson's lead in suing the studios.

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