Netflix CEO Comments on Scarlett Johansson/Disney Lawsuit

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos is the latest industry figure to comment on Disney’s ongoing lawsuit with Scarlett Johansson, and it’s clear where he stands.

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos comments on the ongoing lawsuit between Disney and Scarlett Johansson. The coronavirus pandemic has put a spotlight on the growing power of streaming, and studios’ efforts to keep up with it have yielded mixed results from within the industry. As has been widely reported by now, Disney’s decision to grant Marvel’s Black Widow a day and date streaming release was met with a blistering lawsuit from star and producer Johansson. She stated the studio breached their contract with her by allowing for the streaming release, which then deprived her of millions of dollars in box office bonuses.

A lawsuit of this scale has never been aimed at Disney, so Johansson’s actions sent Hollywood into a tailspin. Disney fired back by accusing Johansson of being callous in the face of the pandemic, while the actress’ camp called the studio’s response misogynistic. Several figures within the industry have commented on the matter, including Johansson’s fellow MCU stars Elizabeth Olsen and Benedict Cumberbatch. Now, though, an executive from outside of the Marvel/Disney fold has chimed in.

Related: What Scarlett Johansson’s Lawsuit Means For Disney, Marvel & Hollywood/Streaming

Earlier this week, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos spoke at the Code Conference and shared his brief thoughts on the Johansson/Disney legal battle (via Deadline). He recognized that this isn’t his own fight, starting out with a diplomatic response. “I watch these things as a spectator — I would have said this or said that. I’m fortunate that we have not been in those shoes,” he said. However, Sarandos then did offer what felt like a slight parting shot at Disney’s leadership, adding, “Talent has to be respected and compensated.”

That, more than anything, is the crux of Johansson’s lawsuit. As studios push their made-for-theaters content towards streaming, talent find themselves missing out on the compensation they expected. Warner Bros. ran afoul of its own talent when announcing all 2021 movies would premiere day and date on HBO Max, though it quickly renegotiated deals. Disney did not renegotiate with Johansson, though CEO Bob Chapek recently confirmed the studio will be adjusting actor contracts in the future. If studios are going to continue to put a bigger focus on streaming, their contracts with talent need to reflect that.

As Disney+ and HBO Max inch forward into untapped areas for their respective studios, Netflix continues to be the gold standard for streaming. Of course, Netflix has the advantage of not belonging to one single studio and of going the reverse way with its projects (that is, developing them for streaming but releasing a select few in theaters). If anyone was going to have insight into the streaming side of this matter, it was likely going to be Sarandos. He kept his response simple and to the point, but he still sent a message: Disney shouldn’t underestimate its talent.

More: Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow/Disney Lawsuit: Every Update

Source: Deadline

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