Jonathan Majors, Ezra Miller and What’s a Studio to Do When Misconduct Charges Flare

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The question of how to handle franchise stars accused of wrongdoing looms large in an industry with no consistency in morality clauses

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Jonathan Majors will be back in court Thursday, defending himself against charges of domestic violence. It’s not just the actor’s own reputation at stake: Disney placed a big bet on Majors by making him a key figure in future Marvel movies — the “Big Bad” of Phase 5 as the supervillain Kang the Conqueror (and his many variants).

His case, along with the public troubles of “The Flash” star Ezra Miller, has taken on fresh prominence in Hollywood as studios struggle with the performance of costly franchise films at the box office. An investment of $200 million or $300 million into a franchise starter or sequel is risky enough, but add in the fact that this summer may only result in a single billion-dollar-grosser (“Barbie”) as sequels underperform, and an actor’s off-set behavior and reputation becomes even more of a concern for any Hollywood studio.