Industry News

Will the stars ever make money in this town again?

14 December, 2021

Over nearly two years, as Covid-19 has kept people away from movie theaters and in front of their TVs, the economics of Hollywood have been transformed. Digital streaming apps have displaced the box office, and that in turn is changing how everyone in the business gets paid — even stars in the wealthiest reaches of show business.

The shift hasn’t always gone smoothly. Last summer, one of film’s biggest actors, Scarlett Johansson, fought back — and in the process offered a glimpse of streaming’s drastic financial impact.

July 9 was to be the much-delayed date when movie-theater audiences would get to see Johansson play Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow — only the second female superhero in Disney’s Marvel franchise to get her own film. The star had spent months training for her combat scenes because while other Avengers characters possess superpowers that can be easily fudged through special effects, Black Widow does not. And this was fitting, given Johansson’s personal predicament as a woman in Hollywood, needing to fight harder than a man for fair treatment and pay.

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