Bell Nunnally Partner Brent Turman is quoted throughout the Backstage Magazine article “Scarlett Johansson’s Disney Lawsuit Could Change How Actors Are Paid.” Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney alleges the company violated her contract by releasing “Black Widow” simultaneously in theaters and via its streaming service, effectively reducing Johansson’s compensation by tens of millions of dollars by decreasing box office revenues. Turman notes that Johansson’s suit may embolden other talent to file similar lawsuits because their contracts – which were signed before COVID – may result in similar legal disputes.
Johansson’s lawsuit demonstrates how interests within the film industry have diverged at times during the past 18 months. “With the studios who have streaming platforms, there has obviously been a lot more emphasis on building those platforms,” said Turman. “Initially, when we’re looking at 100% exclusive theatrical release, the party’s interests were aligned. Once we bring in the streaming service, those financial interests aren’t necessarily aligned anymore. For example, with Disney, they have a financial interest in increasing revenues through Disney+. And it could be in Disney’s best [financial] interest to do the day-and-date release, even if that means less money comes in the box office, which affects other people, like Johansson.”
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