Important faces of the big screen took legal action against the Walt Disney Company for its strategy of simultaneous releases in cinemas and Disney + which would mean a breach of contract, other figures could be taking similar actions.
Last Thursday, July 20, a huge uproar broke out in Hollywood, the actress Scarlett Johansson announced through her lawyers that she was filing a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company for breach of contract, releasing “Black Widow” the same day in theaters and through the Disney + streaming platform. Days later, actress Emma Stone also announced that she was considering suing the company for an identical reason: the hybrid release of the movie “Cruella”, a release that was not stipulated in that way in the contract.
Both Black Widow and Cruella are not films designed for streaming premieres, as the contracts of their figures and creatives stipulate a significant part of the earnings linked to the film box office performance. Apart from the salary charged to make a film, a series of bonuses are also stipulated that will depend on the success of the film, which until before the pandemic was very simple to measure through the distribution window system in which the Cinemas had an exclusivity of the film for several months, and only after that period could it also be distributed through streaming platforms.
However, with the arrival of the pandemic, cinemas were the first to close their doors indefinitely and together with them the premieres of great films as we knew them, streaming platforms became the only way to continue releasing tapes and derive some benefit from them in a totally unsafe scenario for the industry. Examples of this are, among others, Universal with some of its titles under rent, Paramount and Sony selling their rights to Netflix, and Disney launching its own Disney + platform; All of this was understood as a temporary solution and streaming platforms became the main and only means of distribution that was saving the entertainment industry.
Thus the large studies found a way to adapt to circumstances, but not to the needs of all parties involved. The fact of offering the viewer to consume the content through the video-on-demand platforms meant that the classic system of bonuses and salary conditions from the success of the box office changed completely, with the big studios taking practically everything collected thanks to streaming.
It is for this reason that actresses like Johansson and Stone bring to the fore the conversation about how streaming has changed salary conditions and bonuses, as a result of the breach of contract in which Disney promised “a wide theatrical release” which the team Johansson’s Legal Argues Implicit That It Would Be An Exclusive Theatrical Release; They also have an email from Dave Galluz – Marvel Studios’ chief adviser – in which he promised an exclusive release through theaters and that if Disney needed to change plans they would need to discuss the new terms of the contract, which they never did.
The case of Emma Stone for Cruella follows directions similar to those of Black Widow, and thus many other similar cases of actresses and actors upset by simultaneous premieres that did not go according to the signed contracts, which were paid with up to 250 million dollars in compensation for the box office that the films were not going to do in this new online format, as was the case with Gal Gadot -protagonist of Wonder Woman 1984– and Denis Villenueve, director of Dune.