The weekend is finally here. I hope your Friday is going well. Welcome back to another episode of Ask Ash, where I interview WatchMojo Founder & CEO Ashkan Karbasfrooshan and ask him questions about various topics, ranging from covering what is going on in the news, to giving career advice to students & entrepreneurs as well.
This week, Scarlett Johansson, the actress who plays Black Widow in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) has made it public that she is suing Disney over a breach of contract for the Black Widow movie, the treatment of the release of the movie, and being promised an exclusive theater release of Black Widow, but ultimately aired on Disney+ first. This has caused shockwaves around the entertainment, and business world, as Johansson could win up to $50 million in lawsuit payments if she ends up winning the case.
I wanted to get Ash’s thoughts on this case, and what he believes are some of the factors that led to filing suit.
What is your overall reaction to hearing that Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the Black Widow Movie? Do You Think that the delay of the movie, as well as other Disney Content being released before Black Widow, came out play a role in her suing the company?
In 2020 Warner Media‘s chief Jason Kilar ended up shifting most (if not all) of the company’s theatrical releases to HBO Max. The reaction from Hollywood directors, actors, and writers was as expected given that the entertainment industry is generally risk-averse. Understandably, the near-term effects to talent (who was expecting backend participation) would be adverse, even though in the long term, embracing streaming would help Warner Media‘s fortunes. There was clearly a lack of alignment between talent and company and so to avoid burning bridges, Warner Media ended up writing checks to appease the agents and the talent who was not impressed with the move. You could make the case that Jason rubbed the wrong people the wrong way, which is why he found himself as the odd man out when Warner and Discovery decided to merge. So in my opinion, I think this was a high-profile actress with clout basically using the legal forum to force Disney to make good on the reduced global box office revenues that Black Widow had not been available on streaming, thus earning her more compensation. Embracing Disney+ makes sense for Disney, but in the near term, it does little for talent, so something like this was to be expected.
Now, mind you, up to recently Johansson thought it was all right for her to play a trans character, even though society had evolved, and people no longer felt that was appropriate. In a similar way, technology has evolved, consumer behavior has changed, and streaming is the future. So, an argument could be made that if she was wrong to think that she could play a trans character, perhaps it’s also wrong not to embrace the future… but money talks, and this was not surprising.
Lastly, if you want to submit questions to Ash directly, you can do so by clicking the link here: https://watchmojo.com/suggest/AskMojo%20-%20WatchMojo’s%20founder%20Ash