Emma Stone might be joining the group of talent suing Disney over how they have handled the pandemic release schedule for their slate of movies. The actress might be getting in line after Scarlett Johansson brought the litigation hammer to the Mouse House late last week. Now, Screenrant is reporting that Stone is considering a similar lawsuit regarding her movie Cruella which was released on Disney+ and in theaters back in May.
While this isn’t official right now, with Emma Stone apparently mulling over her options with how to proceed with Disney, it is looking like there might be lawsuit action sooner than later around this film. Cruella saw a split release in May, hitting theaters but also available to stream at a premium on Disney+. This timing is part of how some production companies, especially those with their own streaming service, have tried to split the middle when it comes to pandemic-related hesitancy for theatergoers to return to brick-and-mortar movie houses.
The issue at hand for Emma Stone, and talent in similar positions, is the financial windfall, or lack thereof when a movie hits theaters, cranking out box office receipts. Many actors and actresses have stipulations in their contracts that specifically give built-in upside if movies hit certain box office thresholds. And some just simply take a cut of the overall money. But if fewer people go to theaters, opting to stream it on Disney+ for example, then that financial piece simply isn’t reached.
In Cruella, Emma Stone plays the titular character in a reworking of the story from 101 Dalmatians. This film gave the character an origin story, decidedly different from what we’ve seen in the book or original Disney movies. The critical reception was solid, hitting 74% on Rotten Tomatoes with reviews praising Stone in the role. She was able to add a layer of humanity to a typically evil-at-all-costs character who rarely had any sympathy leveled her way. She wanted to make dogs into coats after all.
And the film did see a decent box office return, hitting $225 million in domestic and international take. But Emma Stone could likely contend that because her contract may not have been tied to the PVOD number, there was a lot of money left on the table. Those who streamed at home just didn’t go to the theaters and buy tickets. It would be a 1:1 kind of number, but one has to assume this represents a considerable chunk of change.
This Emma Stone rumor is in the wake of Scarlett Johansson suing Disney over their release of her Marvel solo movie Black Widow. Long tabled because of the pandemic, the studio opted to release the flick on Disney+ the same day as in theaters. Johansson and her team have filed suit saying that breached her contract and it has already become a contentious affair. If studios are going to continue on this path, especially if they have pre-pandemic contracts in place with talent, we might see even more lawsuits before it is all said and done. Everyone is looking to get their piece of the pie.