Following Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow Fallout, Disney Exec Explains ‘Reset’ In Talent Deals

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Over the past decade of filmmaking, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a well-oiled machine. And while every installment in Phase Three was a critical and box office success, Phase Four has had some speed bumps concerning Black Widow. And following Scarlett Johansson’s legal fallout with the studio, one Disney exec has explained the “reset” in talent deals currently happening.

After a number of delays, Black Widow finally was released back in July. But in addition to theaters, it was also made available to stream on Disney+. The movie had a giant pirating issue seemingly as a result, and Scarlett Johansson is in a legal battle with the studio over money lost. And as the fallout continues to shake out, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has spoken about the unprecedented nature of the industry when it comes to streaming. As he put it,

We've got a deal that's conceived under a certain set of conditions that actually results in a movie that's being released in a completely different set, so there's a bit of a reset that's going on right now, and ultimately we'll think about that as we do our future talent deals and plan for that and make sure that that's incorporated.

These comments make a great deal of sense, as there’s been some unrest in the entertainment industry over the role streaming services have. For many blockbusters, actors negotiate to take home a percentage of the box office. This resulted in an insane payday for Robert Downey Jr. on Avengers: Endgame, which is likely part of why Scarlett Johansson was so disappointed with the performance of Black Widow.

Bob Chapek’s comments come from a recent appearance at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference (via THR). The rise of streaming services is having a major impact on the industry, but this is especially true given the new trend of two-tier releases. Because while movies going straight to streaming have been the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the contracts actors signed didn’t take this type of strategy into consideration.

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Later in his same appearance, Bob Chapek went on to explain the unique place that both studios and actors are currently in. While not mentioning Black Widow or Scarlett Johansson by name, it’s easy to make that connection for the public. Chapek said,

But right now, we’ve got sort of this middle position where we’re trying to do right by the talent. I think the talent’s trying to do right by us, and we’re just sort of figuring out our way to bridge the gap.

The reset on talent deals isn’t the only way that Black Widow’s performance seems to have affected the greater MCU. Case in point: Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi was given an exclusive theatrical window before hitting Disney+. The blockbuster has been breaking records, in stark juxtaposition to the disappointing performance of Scarlett Johansson’s solo flick.

Shang-Chi is in theaters now, and will be followed up by Eternals on November 5th. In the meantime, check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.