Comic Book Curious

To Stream Or Not To Stream

August 12, 2021

Perhaps in your general perusal of the internet over the past couple of weeks you’ve seen some hint of controversy between Scarlett Johansson and Disney. Johansson, a star in her own right in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, feels that she has been slighted by Disney’s treatment of her first solo Marvel film, Black Widow.

A white background with Black Widow front and center

In case you don’t know what I am referring to, here are the facts of the case: Scarlett Johansson was guaranteed bonuses based on box office numbers. This appears to be standard practice. She claims that her contract assured her an exclusive theatrical release. She also claims that a theatrical only release would have netted her $50 million more in bonuses.

Disney claims that Johansson’s contract did not say that (aka she wasn’t guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release). They then claimed that part of their release was due to the pandemic, and they were thinking of their audience’s safety – and that Johansson doesn’t care about her fan’s safety.

Here’s my take. If her contract said she was guaranteed a theatrical release, then she is owed money. If her contract did not guarantee her that then Disney was well within their right to stream her movie and to not renegotiate her contract to assure her bonuses based on the streaming. The end.

Rather than focus on an issue that would easily be solved with producing the contract, let’s talk about corporate responsibility. The pandemic has kept people at home for well over a year. Many of us who have been vaccinated have still been hesitant to go out for a myriad of reasons: high risk family and friends, children too young to vaccinate, those who are being irresponsible and don’t wear a mask while being unvaccinated. I am not going to a movie theater to sit in an enclosed space, that is open to full capacity, breathing in recycled air for 2+ hours. I feel that would be socially irresponsible, and that I would be putting my child at risk.

blue background with Disney+ written in white

If there is no breach of contract, then I fully support Disney’s decision to release the film to theaters and to their streaming service. This allowed those who are hesitant to go to a theater the chance to see an exciting addition to the Marvel universe.

Am I accusing Johansson of being socially irresponsible in her desire to force those who want to see the film outside of their home? Maybe. From my point of view, staying home is the safer option. And so, I support Disney’s decision to release to their streaming service, which has been a gods-send to those of us who try to limit (and have the good fortune to be able to limit) our outside excursions.

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