A report on Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit blames Disney CEO Bob Chapek, with some saying Bob Iger would’ve handled it better.
A new report on Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit blames Disney CEO Bob Chapek for the current situation. After Marvel’s Black Widow premiered in theaters and on Disney+ simultaneously in early July, Johansson sued Disney over the film’s release, citing breach of contract. Johansson’s earnings from Black Widow are a core issue in the lawsuit, as her deal with the studio included box office bonuses. Johansson and her team state Disney did not renegotiate her contract when it was decided Black Widow would receive a hybrid release.
The fallout has been particularly ugly, with Disney issuing a statement claiming the lawsuit has “no merit whatsoever” and essentially accusing Johansson of being insensitive about the effects of the ongoing pandemic. Johansson’s agent called Disney’s response an attack on the actress’ character, and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is reportedly angry at Disney for letting things get to this point. Considering Johansson’s long history with Disney, it’s a bit surprising to see the two parties have such a public feud. Some believe Chapek is the one to blame.
In a new report on the Johansson lawsuit in The Wrap, it’s stated “multiple insiders” think the Black Widow situation is Chapek’s fault, due to his lack of experience working with talent. A producer told the outlet, “He didn’t think it would blow up in his face.” USC Marshall School of Business adjunct professor Gene Del Vecchio was one of a few to compare how Chapek handled Black Widow to former Disney CEO Bob Iger’s approach:
“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.”
What’s particularly troubling is Johansson had concerns about Black Widow releasing on streaming back in 2019, one year prior to the coronavirus pandemic. At the time of those conversations, her representation was assured Black Widow would receive a traditional theatrical release, similar to Marvel’s other blockbuster tentpoles. With that in mind, it’s curious why Disney didn’t reach out and negotiate a new contract with Johansson – one that reflected the changed release strategy. Warner Bros. made sure to compensate their talent after they announced all of their 2021 movies would stream on HBO Max the same day as theaters, so there was a precedent to follow. It’s impossible to say for sure, but given Iger’s history, it’s certainly possible he would have dealt with this incident much differently.
For Disney, this goes beyond just Johansson and Black Widow. After Johansson filed her lawsuit, Emma Stone was reportedly considering suing over Cruella, and there are several other actors weighing their options. What becomes of Johansson’s lawsuit and other potential cases remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say Disney has done some damage to their image and reputation within the industry. Chapek will have to work to repair relationships. Disney is the biggest studio in Hollywood with some of the most popular and important properties in the business. Upsetting the key talent behind those films could have serious longterm repercussions if this isn’t dealt with soon.
Source: The Wrap
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