Emma Stone has reportedly won a major legal and financial victory over Disney, signaling good news for Scarlett Johansson as well. Stone starred in Cruella, which was released in the spring both in theaters and on Disney+, potentially hurting the actress’ back-end earnings which are based on ticket sales. According to the latest edition of the What I’m Hearing newsletter, Stone signed a favorable new deal with Disney on Friday.
Rather than suing Disney like Johansson did over the release of Black Widow, Stone reportedly settled her dispute behind the scenes. She closed the negotiations down by signing on to Cruella 2, this time with better pay. It is unclear where that new money comes from, and if it means Stone will now get a portion of Disney+’s “Premier Access” profits the way she would have gotten box office sales. Regardless, eyes are now turning back to Johansson’s lawsuit.
Johansson sued Disney for releasing Black Widow on Disney+ for $30 via Premier Access, arguing that it reduced the number of people going to theaters and therefore reduced her earnings from the movie, since she does not get any portion of those streaming fees. Some have criticized Johansson for this suit considering her exorbitant personal wealth and the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What I’m Hearing author Matthew Belloni provides some analysis on this alleged deal as well. He noted that it helped the public image of Disney CEO Bob Chapek, “who now looks less like the self-dealing, talent-scolding supervillain described in Johansson’s lawsuit and more like a reasonable dealmaker who made nice with an A-list star.” On the flip side, Belloni feels that Stone’s shrewd moves show that she is playing a longer game, anticipating big changes in the movie industry in the years to come.
Belloni speculated that “battles over how talent will be compensated as film distribution shifts to a streaming-first model will be waged for years,” and that Stone and Johansson have just shown two different approaches stars can take. As for the critics questioning why there wasn’t more solidarity between the two, Belloni feels that this is unfair to Johansson.
“Really? We’re still pitting actresses against each other?” He asked. Both Cruella and Black Widow premiered in theaters and on Disney+ this summer, and Black Widow is still available with a $30 Premier Access pass. Cruella will join the streamer’s regular catalog on Friday, Aug. 27.