Today, Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia event and talked about a number of things going on at Disney Parks, as well as things happening with Disney+ and the slate of films that Disney has lined up for the future. He was also asked about the compensation packages that Hollywood actors now have to be given when so many films are not receiving exclusive theatrical releases due to the pandemic.
This question revolves largely around the lawsuit that Disney is facing from Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson. Johansson sued Disney for breach of contract when they released Black Widow on streaming and in theaters on the same day, instead of giving the film the solely theatrical release that Johansson believes that she was promised.
Speaking about the compensation packages and how Disney now works with the actors in a pandemic world, Chapek said:
“Disney has had a long history of having very symbiotic and cooperative deals with the talent and we will continue to…Certainly the world is changing, and the talent deals going forward will have to reflect the fact that the world is changing…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.”
While things are certainly complicated when it comes to figuring out talent deals where both parties feel that they have received adequate compensation for the work that they have done, Chapek believes that Disney will always be able to work with the actors they want for their films.
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.”
Disney has been going back and forth with Johansson since she first decided to sue The Walt Disney Company back in July. Disney has called the lawsuit “callous” and has tried to move the suit into arbitration. Johansson’s team, as well as CAA — the largest agency representing actors — has slammed Disney and called the attacks on Johansson and her character “gendered”.
Most recently, a judge assigned to the lawsuit decided to recuse himself, as he still makes money with a law firm that has worked with Disney, and he felt self-disqualification was necessary for everything to remain impartial.
While Disney is still actively fighting Johansson’s lawsuit, the company has managed to come to an agreement with Cruella star Emma Stone for a sequel to the incredibly successful live-action villain story. It was reported that Stone was considering legal action after Johansson filed her lawsuit, but the two parties have come to an agreement that works for everyone.
Neither a trial nor mediation date between Disney and Johansson has been announced at this time. Inside the Magic will keep readers updated as the case progresses.
Do you think Disney does a good job of working with its talent to compensate them adequately for films released during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments!