Emma Stone to return for 'Cruella 2' amid Scarlett Johansson 'Black Widow' row

There had been reports the actress was considering following in her fellow star's footsteps to sue Disney over film's hybrid release

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Oscar-winner Emma Stone will star in the sequel to Cruella after officially closing a deal with Disney, according to Deadline. This comes amid rumours that the actress was considering suing Disney over the film's hybrid release, which meant it came out in theatres and video-on-demand simultaneously, after Scarlett Johansson became embroiled in her own legal wrangle with the company for using the same release model for Black Widow.

The origin story of Cruella de Vil, the black-and-white-haired villainess from 101 Dalmatians, premiered in theatres and on Disney+ on May 28. While it was critically acclaimed, the box office numbers left much to be desired, with some speculating the hybrid release cut these short.

This is the same reason Johansson is now suing Disney, as the Black Widow star, one of Hollywood's biggest and top-paid names, was entitled to a percentage of box office receipts from the film, which grossed more than $150 million in domestic cinemas in three weeks, low by Marvel standards. Johansson alleged a breach of contract that cost her millions of dollars.

Cruella earned more than $222 million in worldwide ticket sales, while the video-on-demand figures have yet to be released. Either way, it was enough to warrant a sequel, which is now in early development.

Director Craig Gillespie – who has been busy directing Jessica Alba and Zac Efron in Dubai Tourism campaigns – and screenwriter Tony McNamara are both also expected to return for the new instalment.

“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 entertainment and media agency Endeavour about Stone's deal, as reported by Deadline.

"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 recognise 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.”

Stone previously told The National she enjoyed making the film. "[Disney] really let Craig [Gillespie, director] and Tony [McNamara, screenplay] write and make what they wanted to make," she says. "It's definitely dark for a Disney movie. Maybe not for a really intense R-rated film, but it was darker than I've seen a Disney movie for a good long time."

Updated: August 14, 2021, 9:50 AM