Disney CEO says company has ‘cooperative deals with talent’ amid Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit


Disney CEO says company has ‘symbiotic and cooperative deals with talent’ amid Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit

  • Executive spoke at Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference Tuesday 
  • He said  some contracts were ‘made three or four years ago’ were cut prior to the coronavirus pandemic 
  • Chapek said ‘future talent deals’ will be constructed with the updated distribution models in mind 
  • Johansson in July filed suit in LA over the streaming release of Black Widow 
  • She says Disney breached her contract by releasing the film in both theaters and on Disney+


Disney CEO Bob Chapek commented on talent compensation issues the company faces Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, two months after Scarlett Johansson filed suit against the company over the streaming release of Black Widow.

‘Certainly the world is changing and the talent deals going forward will have to reflect the fact that the world is changing,’ Chapek said, according to Deadline

Chapek, who did not name the actress specifically, said that the company ‘has had a long history of having very symbiotic and cooperative deals with talent and we will continue to,’ and that ‘we’re in a moment of time where films were envisioned under one understanding about what the world would be because frankly, it hadn’t changed much.’

Johansson in July filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, saying that her contract for the Marvel Studios motion picture had stipulated that the film would only be released in theaters at first

The latest: Disney CEO Bob Chapek, 61, commented on talent compensation issues the company faces Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, two months after Scarlett Johansson, 36, filed suit against the company over the streaming release of Black Widow

The executive noted how some current contracts that were ‘made three or four years ago’ were cut prior to the coronavirus pandemic upending the entertainment model, leading to ‘changing consumer behavior’ favoring streams over theatrical releases amid the unprecedented times.

‘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,’ he said.

Chapek said ‘future talent deals’ will be constructed with the updated distribution models in mind, ‘but right now, we have this sort of middle position where we’re trying to do right by talent, I think the talent is trying to do right by us, and we’re just figuring out our way to bridge the gap.’

He added: ‘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.’

The actress was snapped in Santa Monica last year at the Film Independent Spirit Awards

The actress was snapped in Santa Monica last year at the Film Independent Spirit Awards

Chapek, who did not name the actress specifically, said that the company 'has had a long history of having very symbiotic and cooperative deals with talent and we will continue to'

Chapek, who did not name the actress specifically, said that the company ‘has had a long history of having very symbiotic and cooperative deals with talent and we will continue to’

Johansson in July filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, saying that her contract for the Marvel Studios motion picture had stipulated that the film would only be released in theaters at first, and Disney had breached it by putting it out in both theaters and on its Disney+ for $30 in rental fees.

Johansson ‘gave Disney and Marvel every opportunity to right their wrong and make good on Marvel’s promise,’ her legal team said, and ‘Disney intentionally induced Marvel’s breach of the agreement, without justification, in order to prevent Ms. Johansson from realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel.’

In its response, Disney said the suit was meritless and ‘especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.’

The company’s legal team said that ‘Disney has fully complied with Ms. Johansson’s contract and furthermore, the release of Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.’

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