Disney, citing the ongoing coronavirus threat, has finally decided to release several major films simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access. It used the strategy in May for “Cruella,” which starred Emma Stone, and grossed $221 million worldwide. (Disney has kept Disney+ sales for “Cruella” a secret.) On Friday, Disney will give the same treatment to “The Jungle Cruise,” a comedic adventure starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne. Johnson. It is not known as a result whether Ms. Stone, Ms. Blunt or Mr. Johnson have renegotiated their contracts with Disney.
Daily business summary
In December, WarnerMedia broke the wasp nest by abruptly announcing that more than a dozen Warner Bros. — the studio’s entire 2021 — will hit theaters and on HBO Max. The decision sparked an outcry from major stars and their representatives over the potential loss of box office-related compensation, forcing Warner Bros. must make new transactions. It ended up paying around $200 million to stop the rebellion.
The deeper question here is this: If the legacy studios no longer try to maximize box office revenue per film but switch to a hybrid model, where success is measured in part by ticket sales and in part by the number of streaming subscriptions sold, what does that mean for stars to be paid – and where do they make movies?
The traditional model, one that studios have used for decades to make popular movie deals, involves paying a small fee upfront and then sharing a portion of the revenue from ticket sales . The bigger the success, the bigger the payday for certain actors, directors, and producers.
The streaming giants did it differently. They pay more upfront – often a lot – in lieu of any upfront payments, giving them complete control over future revenue. It means that people get paid as if their projects were successful before they were released (or even made).
Ms. Johansson’s lawsuit also targets Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief executive, and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chairman, by citing stock subsidies given to them as rewards for building Disney+, the company has more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. “Disney’s financial disclosures make it clear that it was Disney executives who orchestrated this strategy that would personally benefit from their and Disney’s misconduct,” the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, Johansson’s representatives have approached Disney and Marvel in recent months with requests to renegotiate her contract. “Disney and Marvel largely ignored Ms. Johansson,” the lawsuit states.