Punisher and Helstrom Showrunners' Overall Deals Terminated by Marvel

By Tom Drew Updated:
Marvel Terminates Helstrom and The Punisher Showrunners' Overall Deals due to Coronavirus

The film industry has been heavily impacted by the widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Marvel is one of many companies to have fallen victim. Last month, Marvel was forced to push back the majority of its Phase 4 slate , with Black Widow being delayed from May to November 6, 2020. In addition to this, all filming has been halted indefinitely for current film and Disney+ productions, including Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier . Some work has been able to continue, with the post production of The Eternals still underway from home, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still on track for its intended release. One entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that was able to avoid production closings came in the form of Hulu's Helstrom , which managed to wrap production just prior to major quarantining efforts. While no Marvel personnel had been directly affected up to this point, a new report seems to have changed this and marked the start of things to come...


According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter , Marvel has decided to terminate the overall deals of Steve Lightfoot and Paul Zbyszewski. Lightfoot and Zbyszewski had previously worked as showrunners for The Punisher and Helstrom , respectively. This reportedly marks some of the first uses of the force majeure clause in the industry due to the coronavirus.


A force majeure refers to unforseeable circumstances that prevent the fulfilling of the contract, which in this case refers to the coronavirus. An overall deal refers to the compensation received by a producer or executive for their creative services from a studio. The termination of this deal means that Lightfoot and Zybszewski will no longer receive compensation for their work, which has been attributed to COVID-19.

Helstrom had just wrapped shooting prior to production companies closing down, so it is unknown whether post-production will continue without Zybszewski, or if the project will be shelved altogether. It is also interesting that The Punisher 's Steve Lightfoot has been affected, as the series was cancelled last year. Perhaps Lightfoot's overall deal meant that he was still receiving compensation for the continued airing of the series on Netflix, which now means that this revenue stream has been completely cut.

This puts into question how many of these deals exist with other creatives and thus how widespread these terminations will be. Although these series seem to be lower priority entries in the MCU currently, it is uncertain whether this will have a ripple effect for other Marvel properties. This could put other MCU projects in jeopardy of being invoked with force majeure clauses to cut costs, such as their current Disney+ lineup. Ultimately, it is completely uncertain how much this affects Marvel's current plans, but it is likely that this will kickstart a trend for other production companies to follow suit.

- About The Author: Tom Drew
Tom Drew is the Executive Editor at The Direct. Tom writes for The Direct's Marvel, Star Wars, and DC branches while specializing in all things movies, from blockbuster to indie darlings.