While Robert Downey Jr. enjoys Iron Man 3’s massive success, The Avengers 2 cast reportedly aren’t willing to work for what Marvel intends to pay them for The Avengers sequel.
Deadline is reporting that, “Marvel and therefore owner Disney are going to run into big trouble on that sequel because the upfront pay, backend compensation, break even points and box office bonuses aren’t pinned down yet for several big stars and castmates. This is a major hurdle which Walt Disney Co Chaiman/CEO Bob Iger hasn’t even mentioned to Wall Street or shareholders although he’s already been hyping Avengers 2 for more than a year now.” This may have Marvel a little worried. The last thing they need is a mass exodus from the most popular superhero team in the world.
The biggest problem right now for Marvel is that they don’t have Robert Downey Jr. locked down in a contract any longer. Deadline’s source says, ”They need him, and they don’t have him. He’s got a lot of leverage.”
They don’t need Scarlett Johansson as much, although she is reprising her role as Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Chris Evans has reportedly already signed on for Avengers 2 when he wrapped up his contract for Captain America 2. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) is a far bigger actor now than he was when The Avengers was signing on cast members, so he’s most likely expecting a bigger pay raise. He’s reportedly told Marvel that he won’t show up for Avengers 2 for what they’ve offered him so far. As he was paid $5 million for Snow White and the Huntsmen, he’s unwilling to take a paycut for a film that is expected to make at least $1.5 billion at the box office.
After the heavy hitters, we have Mark Ruffalo, who is arguably one of the better actors in the cast, yet will most likely be paid the lowest, along with Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. They’re all expecting $5 million or more, with a back end deal for Avengers 2, but so far Marvel isn’t biting. There’s even talk of the entire cast strong-arming Marvel into giving them equal pay.
Deadline goes on to say that Marvel’s frugality continued during awards season, when Marvel didn’t want to pay for an awards season campaign for The Avengers, and even when Disney offered to “foot the bill,” Marvel still wasn’t willing to go through with the campaign. This is just another sign that Marvel’s business model remains to be ‘keep it cheap.’
The Avengers cast are, reportedly, “ready to rumble with Marvel,” before The Avengers sequel hits theaters in 2015. Deadline reports that, “Some received only $200,000 for Avengers and Downey got paid $50M. On what planet is that OK?” an insider tells them. CAA represents an overwhelming majority of the Marvel stars and is trying hard to keep the negotiations out of the public limelight and media headlines. But that may not be possible with some reps blaming the studio for ‘scorched earth’ tactics past and present. “Marvel has created so much animosity by strong-arming and bullying on sequels already. It’s counterproductive,” one source tells them. Another source says, “I’m sick of Kevin Feige telling me again and again how Marvel is ‘reinventing the movie business.’ It doesn’t work like this. They’re reinventing business, period.”
Apparently, Marvel has threatend to sue or even recast the actors when their contracts are “challenged.” According to their source, many of the actors responded by saying, “Go ahead.” They’ve heard that Chris Hemsworth was one of the main actors who “wasn’t axnious” to go back into his strenuous workout routine to get back into fighting shape for Thor 2. They were also told that, “Scarlett Johanssen told castmates she’s “not going to cut her quote” for Marvel’s Avengers 2.” This is definitely starting to sound ugly, and we don’t imagine, with Marvel’s reported offer of a $500,000 increase, this is going to meet the expectations of the actors that are getting nearly $10 million or more on the open market.
Deadline spoke with Joss Whedon, asking him if he was worried about the actors leaving due to these disputes with Marvel, where he went on to say, “I feel good about Avengers because I feel everyone who took it got something to sink their teeth into. They weren’t hung out to dry. It’s not a soulless piece of work. It may be inept in some places but I meant every word. Marvel distinguished themselves by going after good actors, writers, and directors who were unexpected choices.” We imagine Whedon isn’t that worried, since he took in a reported $100 million for The Avengers, but it’s a different story for actors like Chris Hemsworth, who took in less than $1 million in his first two Marvel films.
One saving grace is that Robert Downey Jr. is reportedly acting like “an older brother.” Taking the side of the rest of the cast and saying that he’s going to stand with them, which means Marvel is going to have to deal with a serious problem if Downey decides to throw down. Fans may be unaware, but Robert Downey Jr. has pull in tinseltown again. His checks of $50-80 million demand respect from the studios and he’s no longer just “the talent.”
Joss Whedon may end up shooting a film next year with actors he’s never had on set before. We look forward to seeing how all of this pans out and if you want to learn more, make sure to head over to Deadline’s full report where they discuss this story in full detail.