Following the Harvey Weinstein expose and other cases of sexual harassment and rape that have surfaced in recent months, Hollywood studios and distributors have decided to include a morality clause in their contracts, reported The Hollywood Reporter.
Fox is among the studios that has reportedly included the clause, which gives it the freedom to terminate any contract among its talents “if the talent engages in conduct that results in adverse publicity or notoriety or risks bringing the talent into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule”.
Production houses have had to incur huge losses for replacing actors and directors accused of sexual assault and misconduct. For instance, the cost of replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World was reportedly $10 million. Spacey’s contract compelled Netflix to pay his salary despite his ouster from the sixth season of House of Cards, according to the report.
Netflix also reportedly suffered a $39 million write-down following Spacey’s exit from its Gore Vidal movie. Netflix CFO David Wells told The Hollywood Reporter that the write-down was “related to the societal reset around sexual harassment”.
Entertainment lawyer Schuyler Moore is among those who have started using the clause to protect clients from similar fates. “Any distributor can say, ‘I’m not picking up this film if somebody involved in the film has some charge like that,’” Moore said.
Not all lawyers agree. “I’m all for [#MeToo]. I totally support it. But I think [broad morality clauses] create a bad precedent,” attorney Linda Lichter told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s one thing to say someone is a criminal. It’s another thing to say someone has been accused by someone and you can fire them and not pay them.”