Skip to main content

Scarlett Johansson Shade? Disney Boss Talks Compensating Stars In Wake Of Black Widow Drama

Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow

CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links.

The last year and a half has been a wild place in the movie business as studios, theaters, and everybody in between have struggled to figure out just how to handle the global pandemic while still producing movies and getting them in front of audiences. It's required a lot of changes to the way things used to happen, including changes in the way that people get paid. However, Scarlett Johansson recently took issue with the way she was being paid by Disney for Black Widow, which has led to a lawsuit and a very public back and forth between the two sides.

During yesterday's Q3 earnings call for The Walt Disney Company, CEO Bob Chapek was asked about the changing Hollywood landscape, and how it has impacted things, such as attracting, and compensating talent. The question seemed to make veiled reference to the Scarlett Johansson situation, and Chapek's response seemed to make an equally veiled response to it, saying that Disney has had no issues working out appropriate deals with talent under these ever changing circumstances, most of the time. According to Chapek...

We’ve figured out ways to fairly compensate our talent so that no matter what the business model is that we have to go to market with everybody feels satisfied. And I will say that since Covid has begun we've entered into hundreds of talent arrangements with our talent and by and large they have gone very, very smoothly.

The "by and large" phrase here seems to be saying quite a bit, as it implies that there have been cases where arrangements have not gone smoothly, and we're all very aware of one place where that has been the case. Scarlett Johansson filed a suit against Disney at the end of July over her compensation package for the Black Widow movie. The actress' pay for the film had several million dollars tied up in the movie's box office performance. The suit alleges because the movie was released on Disney+ as well as in theaters, that hurt the film's box office, thus preventing the actress from realizing her full potential income.

Bob Chapek's comments here seem to indicate that he's not expecting other lawsuits to be filed against the company in a similar vein. It sounds like, for the other films that released on Disney+ in addition to, or instead of, theatrical distribution, new deals were made so that the talent involved would still make their money, or at least some money, even with a reduced box office.

While no other movies are currently set to get the Disney+ Premier Access treatment, Bob Chapek did leave the door open to that possibility. Even if day and date streaming releases don't become the norm, streaming has clearly taken a massive piece of marketshare it won't be giving back, and thus the future of Hollywood has changed, and the contracts will certainly need to change with it.

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.