Showrunner Calls for “Crush” of Disney’s Latest “Scam”

Disney scam
Credit: Disney

When you think of scams involving Disney, you often head straight to ticket scalpers or the infamous merchandise resellers. However, recent reports have surfaced to discuss an ongoing “old Disney scam” that involves the company as the culprit. The Walt Disney Company allegedly engages in an unbelievably shady scam against certain workers to avoid giving raises and holiday pay, and it comes at the expense of your favorite series.

wga strike disney netflix amazon

Credit: ABC/Frederic J. Brown

This practice has caused one show writer to call for guilds and unions to “crush” it. What is the entertainment giant doing? Let’s dive into this alleged Disney contract scam.

A Summer of Controversy

Walt Disney Studios has become one of the many villains in the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes that began over the summer. The two major union entities have been battling Hollywood studios over fair pay. While many of these employees could make a living in the past, the age of streaming has seen a major decline in their ability to make ends meet via little to no streaming residuals and the emergence of artificial intelligence.

Studios, including Disney, have dug their heels in and resisted demands of actors and writers, leading to the Hollywood shutdown we are currently in. Disney CEO Bob Iger has particularly been in extra hot water regarding the strikes due to his seemingly insulting remarks about the workers’ demands. Labeled as lacking in self-awareness, Iger called the terms “unrealistic,” a phrase people argue is ridiculous when the executive makes excessive money annually. Furthermore, some showrunners have claimed that Disney’s dark side goes so much deeper.

Marvel projects delayed

Credit: Disney

An Interesting Trend

Disney has a peculiar history of rebranding or rebooting shows after the third season ends. In particular, Disney Channel sensations were brought back under different banners once they reached this milestone. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody became The Suite Life on Deck. Liv and Maddie became Liv and Maddie: Cali Style. Hannah Montana became Hannah Montana Forever. You get the gist.

Furthermore, many Marvel series under Netflix were canceled and removed from the streaming platform around their second or third seasons. This includes shows like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, The Punisher, and Daredevil. However, Daredevil is currently in the process of a reboot for Disney+ called Daredevil: Born Again set to release next year. This is where the fun begins.


Credit: Marvel

The Alleged Disney Contract Scam

A member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), a labor union consisting of backstage artisans, recently took to Twitter/X with a rant on his grievances over working on the original Daredevil show and other series under Marvel for Netflix. The user, known as Thomas in the thread, discussed receiving no raises or vacation pay in their contracts until the show hit its third season.

I worked on all of the Marvel Netflix shows which all were cancelled in season two or three. Our contracts only give us full vacation pay(like 36 cents per hour worked or some s**t) on season three shows. Four years of work I never got a raise or vacation pay. Like $20,000

He then stated that Disney cut the show once its crewmembers got a full raise and holiday vacation pay. Because the series is now returning under a different name on Disney+, the union member referred to this practice as a “scam” and called on a prominent Daredevil showrunner to weigh in:

Steven DeKnight, a prominent showrunner and executive producer for the original Daredevil, responded quickly. He acknowledged this “old Disney scam” of resetting contract terms and called for unions to address the issue:

He does. It’s an old Disney scam where they slightly rename a series to reset contract terms back to first season. Needs to be addressed by all the guilds/unions and crushed!

Some people couldn’t believe studios could get away with this practice to avoid pay raises and holiday pay. However, DeKnight doubled down that slapping a subtitle on a show does indeed cause the loophole:

That’s whatI’ve been hearing. How that’s legal is beyond me. But much like Hollywood’s creative accounting, they seem to be getting away with it.

How This Affects You

If this is indeed a typical practice, studios effectively decide on the future of your favorite shows despite their popularity. If a show is doing well, it might still take a different course and get rebranded at the expense of workers. Furthermore, your favorite series could be canceled to avoid paying people more for their work.

It is important to note that this alleged scam is not officially established or on public display, but the discussion around its practice is numerous. Furthermore, DeKnight does state that he is excited to see Daredevil return. Nevertheless, rebooting it under a new subtitle is corporate shenanigans, in his opinion.

To be clear, I can’t wait to see Charlie Cox and the amazing @vincentdonofrio reprise their iconic rolls. But to claim this is a complete reboot and you don’t have to pay the original creatives is some corporate shenanigans, to say the least.

While this situation is interesting, it is also vital to mention that these Netflix Marvel series were all removed around the same time due to Disney regaining the rights to the characters involved. Rebranding or rebooting the series after the third season seems a common practice, but Daredevil: Born Again would most likely have been reimagined on Disney+ for this reason and not necessarily as a way around pay raises. However, choosing not to continue it as a fourth season may be a little telling to the many talented artists and creators who helped bring the original show to life.

About Michael Stoyanoff

Michael is a Disney fan with an entertainment background and passion for writing. Living in Orlando, he has been around the theme parks for over a decade. In his free time he enjoys running, playing video games, and traveling the world. He also loves hanging out with his dog, Mr. Pippers the Pug.

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