Insiders Blame Disney CEO Bob Chapek for Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” Lawsuit

While Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company has become a bitter public fight, select insiders say that Disney CEO Bob Chapek is squarely responsible for the current situation, according to The Wrap‘s Sharon Waxman.


Johansson is currently suing Disney over its simultaneous release of Black Widow in theaters and on Disney+ through Premier Access, which she claims caused her to lose financial incentives tied to the film’s box-office earnings as was laid out in her contract. While the COVID-19 pandemic did play a part in Disney’s decision, Johansson asserts that Disney refused to renegotiate their deal after the decision for the hybrid release. Disney responded to the lawsuit, calling it “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The report, later reiterated by ScreenRant‘s Chris Agar, claims that “multiple insiders” blame Chapek’s inexperience with handling talent for letting things result in this suit, with one saying “he didn’t think it would blow up in his face.”

Gene Del Vecchio, an adjunct professor at the USC Marshall School of Business, described the difference between Chapek and his predecessor, Disney executive chairman Bob Iger as to how they approach talent:

Bob Iger was named CEO in 2005 not only due to his business acumen, but for his mastery of developing and keeping relationships that he had honed for dozens of years working with temperamental, high-profile stars. Disney’s acquisition and management of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucas are testimony to his ability. Chapek’s previous experience with Disney Consumer Products, Parks and Resorts did not demand the same level of star-charged interaction.

Reportedly, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has also been upset by the lawsuit, having allegedly fought against the simultaneous release, and wants to rectify the situation with Johansson.

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  1. Ehh, it’s a bad situation all around. On Johanssen’s side, yeah I would be angry that my paycheck was smaller but on Disney’s side, releasing it only to theaters would have been risky too since so many people are not going yet.

    This will be settled out of court and Chapek will have learned an expensive lesson.

  2. Lots of comments I read jumped over the ‘evil disney’ with this lawsuit. However this article seems more logical. Chapek is definitely not experienced with this and I expect an agreement will be made. Heck if even Kevin Feige is upset they need to fix it.

    1. Chapek was and still is a bumbling, underqualified oaf who rode Igers coattails into the role. I predict he will have a very rocky but short tenure and be unceremoniously dumped within the next several years.

    2. If Feige truly had been upset, he would have leaked it out to the press before the movie was released. He wouldn’t have waited until a few weeks later when the film bombed and a lawsuit hit. He is trying to save face.

      1. Feige is upset by the way Disney responded. Everybody knew weeks beforehand it was releasing in Disney+.

  3. Scar Jo is hardly the first nor will be the last performer wanting a renegotiated deal when conditions create a force majeure. While I won’t justify millionaires wanting more money in the times we’re experiencing, Disney should have made an effort to keep this in house. And from this article, it looks like there is one person to blame for why it did not.

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