This week sees a landmark challenge launched against Disney by headlining actress Scarlett Johansson this week, firmly mired in the ongoing debate around the decline in the traditional theatrical window and the shift to offering premium access through streaming networks instead. Expert entertainment lawyer Los Angeles, Brandon Blake, has all the details.

A case that will be watched by all

Scarlett Johansson may be the first to take this motion to the courts, but she’s not the first- or the only- to be impacted by this controversial method of showcasing new blockbusters. In fact, we’ve seen Cruella star, Emma Stone, publicly speak out in her fellow actress’ favor. No doubt many others are offering private support, too.

During the worst of the pandemic, the day-and-date release made sense, but now we’re firmly on the way to a global theatrical recovery, it’s hard to get around one fact- actors and filmmakers, not to mention theaters, are losing out, and only the streaming services are winning.

It’s perfectly natural, then, that the streamers are keen to keep this newly found money train rolling in. It’s not all that surprising, however, that we’re finally seeing some legal moves against it. Especially for those who, like Scarlett herself, have had contracts geared around strict traditional notions of what a theatrical window is and aren't and are being forced to carry these same contracts forward into an era where that term was reinvented entirely.

At least, going forward, actors, filmmakers, and their agents have some idea of what they’re negotiating with. It’s hard not to see at least some bad faith on Disney’s behalf for not coming back to the negotiating table once they knew how releases were going to go down. Especially as we know that Disney has been loath to release any of the Marvel films to streaming in the first place, in fear of it impacting the brand.

Impossible to judge as yet

Of course, what is fair and what is strictly legal don’t always overlap. Where everyone stands in this fast-shifting time where a traditional business model is being overhauled in real-time by those most likely to benefit most from that shift is hard to map. This may be the first such case to go to court, but we’re confident to say it won’t be the last.

All the same, we don’t see an A-list actress tackle a studio giant every day of the week. Most such disputes are tackled in arbitration behind closed doors, if they happen at all. We’ve already seen some interesting choices in how Scarlett’s legal team are handling the matter, seemingly chosen specifically to avoid arbitration and force a press spotlight onto a controversy that’s been brewing throughout the year.

We won’t make the court-of-public-opinion move of speculating too deeply on its legalities as yet, although we will be following it with much interest as it progresses. In the end, it will boil down to the breaking of custom at a time when said custom was impossible to enforce, and how willing the court- and Disney’s legal team- is to understand that having the streamers recreate the market entirely to their own benefit is not particularly in anyone’s interest but those streamers. Given Scarlett’s A-tier pulling power, Disney may be keen to reach a settlement, yet there’s undoubtedly a lot of revenue on the table from the streaming side, too.

Whichever way legalities go, there’s one thing for certain- the resolution of this case, and the others that are sure to follow could well help recreate the talent landscape for a generation to come. Brandon Blake and the team will be on hand to keep you up-to-date.

Author's Bio: 

Hi, As an author I have written so many articles on USA Law, Entertainment law and more.

Entertainment law mostly deals with film, tv and music. I hope this article will be helpful for you.