Disney Accused of ‘Self-Dealing’ by Fox Slate Financier

TSG Entertainment, which has invested more than $3 billion in 140 Fox films including “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “The Shape of Water,” accused Disney in a lawsuit on Tuesday of using Hollywood accounting tricks to cheat it out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The slate financier alleged that Disney had engaged in “self-dealing” by diverting Fox films from a lucrative HBO license to its own Disney+ and Hulu platforms. The lawsuit also alleges that Fox engaged in “sweetheart” deals when it licensed its films to the FX cable channel.

TSG alleges that Disney sought to prop up its stock price, and the pay packages of CEOs Bob Iger and Bob Chapek, at TSG’s expense.

The allegations echo the claims of Scarlett Johansson, who filed her own lawsuit against Disney over the release of “Black Widow” in 2021. Johansson, who later settled her case out of court, alleged that Disney released the film simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ in order to build up the platform, while depriving her of the benefit of an exclusive theatrical release.

Johansson likewise took aim at Iger and Chapek’s compensation packages, arguing that they personally benefitted from taking steps to inflate the stock price at her expense.

TSG and Johansson share the same attorney, John Berlinski of Bird Marella.

TSG began its relationship with Fox in 2012. Disney acquired Fox in 2019. After that, the lawsuit alleges that Disney fired the Fox staffers responsible for marketing and distributing the films TSG had financed, leading to considerable underperformance at the box office for those films.

Struggling for cash, TSG also attempted to sell back its interest in 13 separate tranches of five films apiece, as allowed under its financing agreement. However, the suit alleges that Fox and Disney have refused to make offers for 10 of the tranches.

The suit states claims of breach of contract, against Fox, and inducing breach of contract and interference with contractual relations, against Disney.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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