By Ryan Velez
The issue between Mo’Nique and Netflix has had a bit of back and forth in the court of public opinion. At first, it was a matter of people sympathetic to her treatment vs. those questioning if she was enough of a star to earn more than the $500,000 she was supposedly offered. Then, a rumor came out that Netflix actually offered more, making her look worse. Now, Rolling Out has a series of emails between her and Netflix showing terms and negotiations of the special. Suddenly, her claims make a bit more sense.
According to the terms of the program, not only was she offered the $500,000 but Netflix also had a surprising deal of control over the material from the special. This doesn’t include owning the copyright of the program, controlling all exhibition rights, and owning all audio rights.
For 12 months after the special would have premiered, Mo’Nique would not be allowed to tape or negotiate another comedy special with anyone else. When the 12 months was up, Netflix would have dibs on her next comedy special, and she could to do one with someone else (HBO, for example) only if Netflix passed first, explains The Root. For 24 months after the special would have premiered, Mo’Nique would not be able to crack any of the jokes she did in the Netflix special anywhere else, and when the 24 months were up—Netflix would have first dibs on those jokes, too.
It would be interesting to see if the contracts with similar performers like Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer have similar clauses. The money those two made were mentioned by Mo’Nique when she initially called for her Netflix boycott. If Mo’Nique felt that she was being undervalued while being forced into a situation that was out of the norm, she may have had a bigger point than what initially appeared.
On the other hand, some people argue that she may have ended up just burning another bridge by calling for a boycott rather than taking an alternative route. Wanda Sykes, who showed support for Mo’Nique, said that Netflix gave her a similarly low offer, so she simply went elsewhere. Combine this with high-profile spats with several prominent figures in Black film, one will wonder if she has anyone of power left to listen to her message, even if it is true.