The unprecedented times of pandemics have nudged unparalleled techniques to tackle the unfamiliar issue. With the entertainment industry enduring the severe brunt just like any other industry, now the rebounding issues of it are taking the pedestal. The locked theatres channelized the content to the OTT, and now when the silver screens are gearing up for the audience, the Disney movies continue to release on streaming platforms. The problem per se: the hybrid release. Scarlett Johansson is a torchbearer in this space. And the baton will be passed from one actor to another till the amplified voices carve much-needed change.
The compromised compensation
The fiasco began with Marvel breaching the contract for Scarlett’s Black Widow exclusive theatrical release promise. The actress alleged that on pushing hybrid release her backend bonus derived from box offices ticking a pegged mark were cannibalized. According to her, such measures were put in place by Marvel to promote flagship Disney+ subscription services as Marvel is a subsidiary of Disney.
The studio and the streaming platform have slammed the lawsuit filed by Johansson stating it as a distasteful move on the end of the actress. They further justify their stand by mentioning receipts scarcity alongside struggles of industry due pandemic-era releases.
The overwhelming support
Many celebrities have jumped in to pitch their two cents in the ongoing matter. And have lauded Scarlett for her bold move, further putting the affair on the strict radar. The latest in line would be MCU’s most successful director duo Joe and Anthony Russo. Apparently, after what happened to Johansson, they have reconsidered working with Marvel on a future project. Studio head Kevin Feige was also ’embarrassed’ about the situation and wanted to do her right. Furthermore, her co-actor in Avengers Endgame, Elizabeth Olsen shares with Vanity Fair,
“I think she’s so tough when it comes to actors and their earnings, I mean, that’s just, that’s just all contracts. So, it’s either in the contract, or it’s not,”
Likewise, Alec Baldwin and Jason Sudeikis have thrown their support to the actress’ lawsuit over multiple social media platforms. More so, many Disney comics creators and writers who quite recently red-flagged the unjustified compensatory structure of the studio have poured words against this poor megacorporation.
#DisneyMustPay Taskforce jumps in too
Last year a public disagreement sparked between Star Wars and Alien tie-in novelist Alan Dean Foster and Disney for withholding his book royalty payment. In the following year, as the result, a group of people working with Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and other writer community formed the “Disney Must Pay Task Force.” The task force called out the legal tussle between the artist and the studio. They issue a statement siding with Johansson. It says,
“The first way to respect Ms. Johansson is to pay her properly and not use unethical contractual maneuvers to avoid payment. This is not the first time the Task Force has seen Disney attempt such twisting of contractual language”
Emma Stone and Emily Blunt takes the baton
Reportedly, Emma Stones and Emily Blunt are on the verge of suing Disney+ for the hybrid release of their movies ‘Cruella’ and ‘Jungle Cruise’ respectively. It seems like Scarlett’s move has knocked some senses in the head of actors to claim what is rightfully theirs. And it is just the beginning of it, wait till the fire is widespread to more artists.
In the past, such rare measures have been taken by the artist to ensure their contractual rights. For starters, Actor Gerald Butler filed a lawsuit against production houses that made profits off his name. And so did, Taylor Swift on a record label for selling her album to a celebrity manager without her knowledge. This alarming issue draws attention towards putting appropriate measures in place that make sure that contractual rights are honored.