Oscar-winner Emma Stone has agreed a deal with Disney to star in a Cruella sequel, as the company battles a lawsuit from Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson over its release strategy.
According to Deadline, the agreement ‘mutually benefits both sides’, which echoes Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s words in the company’s latest earnings call with investors where he said Disney had ‘figured out ways to fairly compensate our talent so that no matter what the business model is that we have to go to market with, everybody feels satisfied’.
Cruella, like Black Widow, was simultaneously released in cinemas and on Disney Plus via Premier Access at an additional fee.
Executive chairman at Endeavor, Stone’s agents, Patrick Whitesell told he publication: ‘While the media landscape has been disrupted in a meaningful way for all distributors, their [Disney’s] creative partners cannot be left on the side lines to carry a disproportionate amount of the downside without the potential for upside.
‘This agreement demonstrates that there can be an equitable path forward that protects artists and aligns studios’ interests with talent.’
Whitesell said Endeavour ‘appreciate’ Disney’s ‘willingness to recognise her [Stone’s] contributions as a creative partner’.
‘We are hopeful that this will open the door for more members of the creative community to participate in the success of new platforms,’ he added.
Cruella, an origins prequel for Disney’s iconic dognapping, fur-obsessed villain, has so far grossed $221.8million (£159.9m) worldwide.
On top of this, although Disney hasn’t released or confirmed the viewership of box office figures from Disney Plus, Samba TV reported that the figure was close to $21m (£15.1m) over the four-day US Memorial Day weekend from American Smart terrestrial TVs alone.
In June, Cruella’s director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Tony McNamara were reported as working in early development with Disney on the prequel’s sequel – before the film had even hit its second weekend of release.
Meanwhile, Marvel superhero Johansson has since initiated legal action against Disney for breach of contract, as the actor alleges the non-existent theatrical window between cinema and home-viewing release ate into her profits.
As Disney’s robust response to Johansson’s ‘sad and distressing’ lawsuit faced backlash from industry figures, including the Time’s Up movement, which branded it ‘a gendered attack’, reports circulated that both Stone and Emily Blunt, who starred alongside Dwayne Johnson in Disney’s summer blockbuster release Jungle Cruise, were ‘weighing their options’ with the company.
Both are believed to be on the same type of box office percentage contracts as Johnansson.
CEO Chapek has also insisted Disney’s future release strategies would be based on what the company believes ‘is in the best interest of the film and the best interest of our constituents’, suggesting its split release model could be here to stay.
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