Emma Stone has closed a deal to star in the sequel to Disney+ release Cruella. The move is significant being that it comes amid the turmoil caused by Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney over her compensation for Black Widow, which like Cruella, debuted day-and-date in theaters and on Disney+.
Johansson’s lawsuit alleges that her contract was breached when the Marvel movie was released on Disney+ day-and-date. After its filing, Disney retorted with a strong statement, calling the lawsuit “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Following this, major Hollywood figures and organizations weighed in, including CAA’s Bryan Lourd (“[Disney] have shamelessly and falsely accused Ms. Johansson of being insensitive to the global COVID pandemic”) and SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris (“Disney should be ashamed of themselves for resorting to tired tactics of gender-shaming and bullying.) Women In Film, ReFrame and Time’s Up also offered a joint statement, while industry insiders questioned if other lawsuits would follow.
During Disney’s quarterly earnings report CEO Bob Chapek addressed the studio’s relationship with talent, saying to analysts, “I will say that since COVID has begun, we’ve entered into hundreds of talent arrangements with our talent. And by and large, they’ve gone very, very smoothly. So we expect that that would be the case going forward.”
“While the media landscape has been disrupted in a meaningful way for all distributors, their creative partners cannot be left on the sidelines to carry a disproportionate amount of the downside without the potential for upside,” said Patrick Whitesell, Executive Chairman of Endeavor of WME client Stone’s deal. “This agreement demonstrates that there can be an equitable path forward that protects artists and aligns studios’ interests with talent.
The exec added: “We are hopeful that this will open the door for more members of the creative community to participate in the success of new platforms.”
For the Cruella sequel, director Craig Gillespie and writer Tony McNamara are returning. The 2021 feature acted as an ’80s punk-inspired origin story for the famed Disney villain from 101 Dalmatians.
Cruella debuted May 28 simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ under the streaming service’s Premier Access tier, making it available to purchase for $30. To date, the film has earned $85 million at the domestic box office and $221 million at the global.
Aug. 13, 6 p.m. Updated with statement from Patrick Whitesell.