fbpx

How Scarlett Johansson’s Lawsuit Sheds a Light On Payout Options for A-List Actors

Photo by Aditya Joshi via Unsplash

How Scarlett Johansson’s Lawsuit Sheds A Light On Payout Options for A-List Actors

By Movieguide® Staff

Actors, studios and theaters have navigated the often volatile subject of who gets paid and how much since the conception of the traditional box office.

However, the pandemic has made it more complicated for actors and owners to decide on payout options, especially with an anemic traditional box office and the boom of streamers like Disney+.

However, the flood gates were opened after actress Scarlett Johansson sued Disney, claiming that their day-to-date release on streaming violated her contract for a worldwide theatrical release.

Movieguide® reported:

While Hollywood’s A-list actors are no strangers to legal battles, Johansson’s lawsuit against the largest entertainment company in the world is bound to turn some heads.

The BLACK WIDOW star sued the Walt Disney Company, claiming that their simultaneous release of the summer blockbuster in theaters and their streaming service Disney+—for 30 dollars—violated their original contract with the actress.

Although the legal ramifications of Johansson’s case are yet to be fully determined, Disney’s overall lack of judgment in their response to an A-list actor like Johannsson could mark a turning point in how actors are paid.

Variety reported:

In the era of streaming, back-end revenue streams are slowing to a trickle while the salary demands of A-list actors are reaching astronomical heights. Talent is grabbing as much as possible on the front end because the traditional route to after-market profits through syndication sales and international licensing is disappearing as conglomerates build content war chests to feed global platforms.

At stake is the future of how Hollywood stars negotiate their salaries, and how much they can command. Already, insiders at the studios have long griped, movie stars were demanding too much, as the ability to attract crowds shifted from a handful of charismatic actors to properties such as those of Marvel or DC Comics. (Just look at how many fans went to see “Dolittle” with Robert Downey Jr. out of Iron Man’s suit last year.)

…There’s a growing sense that the old way of making money for A-list talent has atomized.

As Corey Field, author of Entertainment Law: Fundamentals and Practice, points out: “Owners do better than talent, consistently, every time, always, without fail.”

However, even with the introduction of streamers, A-list actors are still offered massive payouts through mega-pacts—like the deal between Daniel Craig and Netflix for subsequent KNIVES OUT movies.

“For the longest time if you had a movie property or a TV property and you took it to market, it was a monolithic experience,” Mike Larocca, co-founder of AGBO, said. “It was the same model with maybe some bells and whistles. But for the past 12 or 18 months, every distributor developed different needs and different ways of apportioning compensation. It’s in flux, so you have to be innovative.”

While the shift between front-end fees and back-end fees is undoubtedly a major factor, other movie executives believe content also plays a part in how much money is generated.

“Instead of chasing around after money, let’s spend that time and energy making better movies,” one film agent said, according to Variety. “With streaming, back end was already going away. [Front-end] fees make it easier to know where you stand.”

However, many see Johannson’s lawsuit as a sign that studios need to offer their actors more clarity.

“All the clients ever want is to be treated fairly by the studio,” Roman Silberfeld said. “And they want to have even ambiguous agreements interpreted fairly.”

Read Also: How Scarlett Johansson’s Legal Battle with Disney Foreshadows Potentially Drastic Changes in Entertainment

Listen now: Movieguide® staff discuss streaming, superstars, theaters, and Tim Tebow in their latest podcast!

 

4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.