Scarlett Johansson and Disney Settle “Black Widow” Lawsuit
While the terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, the actress said she is “happy to have resolved” her dispute with the studio.
Johansson and Disney Settle
Actress Scarlett Johansson reached a settlement with Disney on Thursday over their legal battle regarding the dual release of “Black Widow.”
It is unclear how much the settlement was worth, but outlets have previously reported that Johannson was seeking $80 million.
The “Avengers” star filed a lawsuit against Disney in July over its choice to release the Marvel flick for a premium fee on Disney+ the same day it hit theaters. She claimed the decision violated her contract, which guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release. The lawsuit also alleged that the strategy harmed the film’s box office earnings, and in turn, Johansson’s paycheck because she was slated to get a cut of the movie’s profits.
The lawsuit ignited a series of fiery exchanges between both parties. After Johansson filed the lawsuit, Disney shot back with a scathing statement that claimed she had already received $20 million for the picture.
“The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the studio added.
Representatives for Johansson accused the studio of trying to paint a false and negative image of the actress. They also claimed that in Disney’s choice to put “Black Widow” in its relatively new streaming service, the studio was merely trying to increase “the value of Disney+” while also saving Marvel from having to pay “very large box office bonuses” that it would have otherwise owed her.
Johansson previously pledged to take the matter to court but according to Deadline, the first hearing over the matter was recently delayed until March 2022. Now that she has settled with Disney, both parties have released far more flattering remarks.
“I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney,” Johansson said in a statement. “I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come.”
Alan Bergman, the Chairman of Disney’s Studio Content, returned the compliments.
“I’m very pleased that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement with Scarlett Johansson regarding Black Widow,” he said in a statement of his own. “We appreciate her contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects, including Disney’s Tower of Terror.”
Black Widow’s Box Office Success
“Black Widow” has been one of the most successful films of the pandemic, falling only behind fellow Marvel blockbuster “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which notably got an exclusive theatrical release. So far, the Natasha Romanoff feature has made $378.7 million, perhaps less than it would have made in an era before COVID-19 but still a massive win in 2021.
Following its first weekend both in theaters and streaming, Disney also announced that the movie earned $60 million on Disney+ Premier Access. While it is unclear how much this may have set back the film’s box office potential, theater owners have argued that “Black Widow” could have made tens of millions more in its opening weekend alone if it were not also accessible on Disney+.
Disney is far from the only studio that has found itself in a financial frenzy after opting for a dual release strategy amid the pandemic. Warner Bros. used this method for all its 2021 releases. According to the Wall Street Journal, the studio has had to pay over $200 million to talent and directors in negotiations as a result.
Moving forward, contracts between studios and actors will likely look different and include more explicit wiggle room for pictures to go directly to streaming. This is a matter Disney CEO Bob Chapek touched on in September, explaining that contracts at the studio “will have to reflect the fact that the world is changing.”
“So there’s a bit of a reset that’s going on right now, and ultimately we’ll think about that as we do our future talent deals and plan for that and make sure that that’s incorporated,” he said during a virtual Goldman Sachs conference.
For the rest of 2021, however, Disney has pledged to release the rest of its films exclusively on the big screen.
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Max to Agrees to “Properly” Credit Writers and Directors After Facing Backlash For Lumping Them in As “Creators”
The company said the credits were laid out incorrectly due to “an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max.”
After film and television writers slammed Max for crediting all writers, producers, and directors as general “creators” on its platform, the company said it will be adjusting its credits display.
“We agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized,” the streaming service said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Max — the new rebrand of HBO Max that incorporates Discovery content — launched on Tuesday to much criticism. Amid glitches and app-switching confusion, the biggest backlash it faced was over the choice to lump creative roles into one credit section called “creators.” As one viral tweet noted, if a user were to select the film “Raging Bull,” the service’s display would not specifically credit Martin Scorsese as the director, rather, his name would be included at random with half a dozen other people, including writers and producers.
The decision was condemned by many in the industry who argued it minimizes writers and directors by not properly giving them credit where it is due. Especially amid the ongoing writers’ strike, and with directors and actors starting negotiations with studios, some took it as a slap in the face.
“The studios don’t want anyone to know our names,” writer Christina Strain tweeted. “It’s easier to pay us nothing if we’re faceless.”
“Another move from studios to diminish the role of writers, directors, actors and other craftspeople. Miss me wit this nonsense,” Jorge Rivera, the Vice-Chair of the Writers Guild’s Latinx Writers Committee, added.
In a statement, Directors Guild President Lesli Linka Glatter said that Warner Bros. Discovery’s choice to “collapse” these roles into one credit “while we are in negotiations with them is a grave insult to our members and our union.”
“The DGA will not stand for it,” Glatter continued.
WGA West President Meredith Stiehm claimed the move was “a credits violation,” as well as an insult “to the artists that make the films and TV shows that make their corporation billions.”
On Wednesday, Max said it would rework its crediting.
“We will correct the credits, which were altered due to an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max and we apologize for this mistake,” the platform said.
See what others are saying: (Gizmodo) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Los Angeles Times)
A Quarter of Young British Men Support Andrew Tate’s Thoughts on Women
U.K. residents at large, however, do not view him favorably.
Even under house arrest in Romania, misogynist influencer Andrew Tate still holds substantial sway over young men.
According to data from YouGov that was obtained by The Independent, 26% of U.K. men between 18 and 29 years old who know of Tate agree with his views on women. That figure was largely the same for men between 30 and 39, as 28% agreed with Tate’s opinions on the subject.
Men in their 30s were slightly more likely to agree with Tate on his thoughts about masculinity. Three out of ten supported those views, compared to just a quarter of men 18 to 29.
Those statistics only include the thoughts of men who have heard of Tate, but per YouGov, most have. In the 18 to 29 group, 93% were familiar with him, and 86% of men in their 30s knew of him.
The U.K. at large was less aware of Tate, with just 63% of British adults having heard of him. Of that group, only 6% held a positive view of him.
Tate has faced substantial backlash for his sexist rhetoric over the years. In the past, he said that men should have “authority” over their wives or girlfriends, and that women should “bear some responsibility” for being raped. He was previously banned from Twitter over his extremist views on women but has since been allowed back on the platform.
He is currently being investigated in Romania for organized crime and human trafficking. He was arrested and held in custody in December but was released to house arrest earlier this year. No formal charges have been filed against him yet and he has maintained his innocence.
Tate currently boasts a Twitter following of 6.7 million. It has grown significantly since he was enveloped in legal controversy, and many of his supporters have demanded his release.
See what others are saying: (The Independent) (Glamour U.K.)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Involved in “Near Catastrophic” Paparazzi Chase
“While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety,” a spokesperson for the couple said.
“Aggressive” Paparazzi Chase Couple in New York
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were involved in a “near catastrophic” paparazzi car chase Tuesday night in New York City, according to a spokesperson for the couple.
In a statement, the spokesperson described the photographers as “highly aggressive.”
“While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety,” the statement added.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers,” it continued.
Details of the incident are still emerging, but BBC News reported that there are claims the chase involved roughly six cars driving recklessly by running red lights, driving on the sidewalk, carrying out blocking moves, going backward on a one-way road, and taking pictures while driving.
The chase happened after Harry and Meghan were leaving the Women of Vision Awards with Meghan’s mother, Doria. They did not want photographers to learn where they were staying and attempted to avoid them in what turned into a 75-minute chase on a main road in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. They eventually ducked into a New York Police Department Precinct to hide out before getting into a different vehicle.
The NYPD released a statement confirming that they assisted in protecting the couple as “numerous photographers” hindered their transport. Officials said they made it to their destination and there were no collisions, injuries, or arrests.
The couple’s spokesperson is asking the public to not share or post footage of the incident.
“Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved,” the spokesperson said.
Memories of Princess Diana
The chase evokes the brutal press hounding Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was subjected to throughout her life. The paparazzi’s obsession with her ultimately resulted in her death in 1997, when she was killed in a car crash after being chased by photographers in Paris.
Since marrying Meghan and later bowing out of the Royal Family, Harry has made it explicitly clear that he fears those events could happen again. Meghan has been the subject of endless tabloid scrutiny, enduring racism and harassment from the press. Part of the reason they left the Royal Family was to keep their family protected from such attacks.
Mayor Eric Adams brought up Diana’s tragic passing while speaking about Tuesday night’s chase.
“I don’t think there’s many of us who don’t recall how [Harry’s] mom died,” Adams said while speaking to reporters. “And it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this and something to have happened to them as well…I think that was a bit reckless and irresponsible.”
Adams also questioned whether or not he believes a chase could go on for two hours in a city as congested as New York, but noted that even a 10-minute chase would be dangerous. He said he will be briefed on the exact timeline and details later.