Disney CEO defends studio amid Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit

‘I think the talent is trying to do right by us, and we’re just figuring out our way to bridge the gap,’ Bob Chapek said

Peony Hirwani
Wednesday 22 September 2021 07:13
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Black Widow - Trailer

Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek has once again defended the media and entertainment studio amid Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit.

During an appearance at Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference on Tuesday (20 September), the 61-year-old businessman was questioned about the compensation of Hollywood talent owing to the distribution models.

As per Deadline, he was asked about the advantages Disney has when it comes to “being a place that talent wants to work in a direct-to-consumer marketplace”.

While the media executive did not name either Johansson or the lawsuit, he said: “Certainly the world is changing and the talent deals going forward will have to reflect the fact that the world is changing.”

“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,” he added.

“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.”

Scarlett Johansson as 'Black Widow'

He said the company would be thinking about those changes “as we do our future talent deals”.

Chapek revealed that presently, Disney is in “this sort of middle position, where we’re trying to do right by the talent”.

In July, Johansson initiated legal proceedings against Disney, alleging that the online release of Black Widow breached her contract.

The filing, which was reviewed by The Independent, alleged that Johansson’s compensation for the movie was “largely based” on Black Widow’s box office performance, which was substantially lower than projected.

On 29 July, Disney responded to the lawsuit, saying in a statement: “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.”

Despite taking in $80m in the US over its opening weekend, Black Widow suffered an unexpectedly high drop-off rate going into its second week (69 per cent), which many have attributed in part to its simultaneous streaming release.

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