The former Marvel Studios attorney explains how the legal team is involved in making the films

The former Marvel Studios attorney explains how the legal team is involved in making the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

During an episode of Better Call Paul (podcast focusing on “business of show business“), The co-host Paul Sarkerformer lawyer of the Marvel Studiosanswered some legal questions about his duties for the film division of House of Ideasunveiling some behind the scenes.

Most notably, Sarker, who oversaw and finalized actor contracts for films such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron And Thor: The Dark Worldshed light on the way of operating and the tasks of the legal team of the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

They do not necessarily involve younger lawyers, unless there is a contract that needs to be signed or some kind of problem. But at a strategic level, they involve the business department and the lawyers pretty early, in regards to things that can have a potential impact, when we are at a crossroads, when we want to plan the next two years, which characters are off limits and which ones we will need to share. Back in the day, we had to establish with Fox and Sony which characters were inaccessible. So for those high-level discussions, they talk to the marketers and the head of corporate affairs and they get the right directions. I mean, strategically believe Kevin [Feige] spoke to the corporate affairs manager on a regular basis. “

While most of these contracts are tied to individual talent, the all-encompassing task of the legal department revolves around the blockbuster budget:

“A couple of years ago, for example, when we were doing [Avengers] Endgame, we thought ‘We will spend $ 200 million on the actors alone on this film. ‘ because we wanted to shoot in Atlanta with all of them present. A thing like that, conceptually speaking, needs to be planned well in advance with the lawyers. And the latter have to work on budget approvals for when they are called and do it, because this is not an ordinary agreement. You have a constellation of 20 stars who have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some of them being among the biggest and highest paid actors in Hollywood. And they have other contractual commitments. Some of them are regularly in other films, some of them haven’t been in our universe for two or three years. In that scenario, you need some lead time to do that job. But it is not necessary to involve young lawyers in that process. It’s something on a higher level. “

As explained by Sarker, even when a project goes into production some dynamics are constantly evolving and can change from one moment to the next:

“In the production, I would say there are countless times where it turns out a day or two before something has to happen. For example, when looking for actors for roles, I don’t want to mention Tom Holland specifically, but A lot of times, when people come for screen tests, the casting team and creative team basically wait until the last minute to give us their list of people they would like to make deals with. “

“And then boom, you reach the terms of the agreement, you try to do business, you find representatives, you get their shares, you try to draft the agreements, you have the authority to do it. When you are allowed to agree, the contract ends very quickly, and then you have to put it on paper. But the whole process could only take three or four days or less, because until the decision is made, there is no need to finalize a deal, right? The strategic decisions of the business team leaders are made in advance, like what story arcs we want to develop for Disney + and things like that are mentioned in advance to the lawyers. If it’s just a matter of closing a deal, sometimes you only find out at the last minute. “

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