Marvel Studios Attorney Reveals What Happens to Actors Who Break NDAs (Exclusive)
Marvel snipers are a legend amongst fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the fabled legal team that tracks down actors for spoiling or accidentally leaking details of the franchise while on social media or during a press junket. As is standard across Hollywood, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are commonplace amongst those that work on the set of a Marvel Studios production both in front of and behind the camera.
We recently caught up with former Marvel Studios attorney Paul Sarker to chat about the business side of things, and he revealed some pretty daunting situations that could unfold for those who break a Marvel Studios NDA.
"Legally, if you violate an NDA, you could be responsible for damages, legal damages, and potentially an injunction," Sarker tells us. "If you threaten to say, 'Hey, I'm going to release X information unless you negotiate this deal with me,' or you could try to ransom. In that situation, the studio could sue you and say, 'Hey judge, make sure this person doesn't say anything because this could cause us irreparable harm,' but that's less likely to happen."
Sarker says that since Marvel Studios films often make nearly a billion dollars at the box office, the damages a court could find may theoretically be staggering. Still, he thinks the studio is more likely to take a more practical approach.
"The other thing you risk is the relationship, right? Let's say you haven't been cast and they send you a script and you're being tested, or they send you a link to some secure site where you can get a script and you can do maybe a table read or whatever online," the attorney adds. "If you then leak that information, A) they could sue you, and B) they're probably not going to want to work with you because you're not someone that could be trusted. If they bring you in and give you more, they need to be able to trust you to sort of bring you in and on the team."
The other thing, Sarker suggests, is that sometimes payment from actors isn't made until further along in the production process.
"If you're breaching or you're in violation of the contract, they don't necessarily have to pay you," Sarker continues. "So there's a lot of risks there, but I'd say the biggest ones are alienating the relationship with the studio, because they can't trust you. And then monetary damages."
That begs to ask the question — what do NDAs from Marvel Studios look like, or what do they cover?
"They cover anything that is not public information that you get from the other side that you didn't otherwise know or discover on your own, basically," Sarker confirms.
That's only the beginning, the attorney adds. Sarker says NDAs aren't entirely negotiable, because a studio like Marvel Studios could simply withhold scripts without having that protection of a signed non-disclosure agreement.
"From the studio's perspective, you want as broad coverage as possible, so that if there is a leak, you don't have to argue about whether it was confidential or not," he concludes.
While at Marvel Studios, Sarker worked on five Marvel flicks including Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Now, he hosts Better Call Paul, a weekly podcast covering the various facets of entertainment law.0comments