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How Emma Scored Big in Her Disney Settlement—and Why Scarlett Should Be Happy for Her

Emma Stone as Cruella in Cruella
Photo by Laurie Sparham/Disney
Matthew Belloni
August 15, 2021

Wars are fought on many fronts, especially wars over money. For most of the spring and summer, both Scarlett Johansson and Emma Stone were battling Disney over their compensation on movies that opened simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+. It wasn’t a public fight, but it was widely known among entertainment lawyers. I even wrote about the disputes back in June. Johansson, as we now know, chose to sue over Black Widow, and many wondered if Stone would follow suit over Cruella. The litigation floodgates were about to open, some predicted, all but cheering her on.

On Friday, however, we learned that Stone chose a different path, settling her beef and signing on to Cruella 2. The initial reaction in some parts of the industry was to declare victory for Disney and its C.E.O. 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. Stone likely used the noise around the Johansson suit to extract more money from Disney, some noted. This inevitably begged the question of why Stone didn’t “have Scarlett’s back,” as one person emailed me.