Defying rumors that she might be considering following Scarlett Johansson into open legal war with Disney—after the pair had their respective 2021 vehicles, Cruella and Black Widow, split between theatrical releases and a premium launch on Disney+, reportedly to negative financial effect—Emma Stone has now formally signed a deal to star in Cruella 2.
This is per Deadline, which reports that Stone has now locked down the particulars on a second Cruella film, and that the deal “mutually benefits both sides,” which is presumably trades-speak for “Emma is getting paid.” (That was the takeaway from former Hollywood Reporter editor-in-chief Matt Belloni, who noted how unusual it was that the head of Endeavor, Stone’s talent agency, was the lead comment on the Deadline piece about the deal.)
In an objective sense, Cruella didn’t immediately scream for a sequel; the movie brought in about $220 million at the box office (plus whatever VOD cash it pulled in) off of a $100 million budget, not normally the kind of money Disney impresses itself with. But, of course, these were abnormal circumstances—especially since the media leviathan is currently very invested in not seeming like it’s willing to screw over talent in order to funnel subscribers over to its streaming service, since that’s exactly what Johansson’s still-extant lawsuit is trying to prove.
Or, to quote aforementioned talent agency chair Patrick Whitesell:
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. 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.
(Translation: “Emma is getting paid.”)