Emma Stone has closed a deal to star in Disney’s “Cruella” sequel, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap on Friday.
The deal comes just weeks after another top star, Scarlett Johasson, sued the studio over its hybrid release strategy for “Black Widow” — a big-budget film that, like “Cruella,” was developed for exclusive theatrical release and promised significant backend compensation based on box office grosses.
“Cruella” was released on May 28 in theaters and on Disney+, and earned more than $220 million globally. Since any sequel won’t be released for several years, it’s not clear if the film will open exclusively in theaters, on the Disney+ streaming service or in hybrid release like the first one. The studio announced the sequel in June, shortly after the film’s release.
Patrick Whitesell, executive chairman of Stone’s talent agency, Endeavor, suggested in a statement that the star’s deal will compensate her regardless of what platform the new movie eventually plays.
“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,” Whitesell said. “This agreement demonstrates that there can be an equitable path forward that protects artists and aligns studios’ interests with talent. We are proud to work alongside Emma and Disney, and appreciate the studio’s willingness to recognize her 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.”
It’s not clear if the new deal included renegotiated compensation for “Cruella,” whose ticket sales were dampened by the simultaneous streaming release as well as the depressed moviegoing this year as theaters had just begun to reopen at capacity.
Since many films have headed to streaming instead of theatrical in the wake of the pandemic, studios and agents have begun to negotiate new terms for talent based on whether a film plays exclusively in theaters, debuts on a streaming service or has a hybrid release. The two sides are carving out contingencies (and compensation) no matter how the film eventually reaches consumers.
However, these contingencies were not in place for films like “Black Widow” or “Cruella” that were greenlit way before the pandemic disrupted studio release strategies.
“Cruella” also starred Emma Thompson, Paul Walter Hauser, John McCrea and Joel Fry. Craig Gillespie directed.
Deadline first reported the news of Stone’s deal.