It currently seems fashionable for high profile celebs to sue Disney for releasing their projects with the hybrid theatrical and Disney+ same-day release. But one major star is not going to be doing that: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. In fact, the former WWE superstar is quite happy with the business model that The Walt Disney Company is using for their recent major film projects.
Check out the details below, including what one of the biggest pop culture celebrities today had to say.
Disney lawsuit debacle
As previously reported, Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) is suing Disney and is in the midst of a media and legal battle with the company. Johansson’s camp alleges that Disney committed a serious breach of contract by finalizing a release of the long-delayed Black Widow that included both theatrical and Disney+ via the Premier Access option for $30.
Disney fired back, stating there was no breach of contract and that the agreement was for the film to be released in theaters. Any additional option (including the Disney+ streaming platform) was not covered by that agreement as long as there was a theatrical release, per the terms stated. Moreover, Disney claims that Johansson has been justly compensated through the Premier Access profits plus her $20 million initial salary.
At this time it is too early to tell which side has the upper hand. What is notable is that other celebrities are looking at the situation and rumored to be considering their own legal action, such as Emma Stone (Cruella) and Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place II, Disney’s Jungle Cruise). Although these speculations are currently unverified, the Johansson case will be precedent-setting.
The Rock isn’t budging
In the midst of this controversial and highly publicized legal issue, one major celebrity seems to be happy with Disney: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
Johnson is one of the executive producers of Disney’s Jungle Cruise through his Seven Bucks Productions company. As of this writing, Jungle Cruise has a global box office return estimated at $91.8 million. With its $34.2 million opening for the theatrical release, it is on par with Johnson’s other pre-pandemic box office numbers.
Furthermore, Jungle Cruise is hitting enough numbers that it is going to be the highest box office take for a family film this year. Tony Chambers, Disney's executive vice president of theatrical distribution, is already promoting the film’s performance as a high water mark:
We have delivered the No. 1 family film opening of the year and take great solace in that; one can’t compare the numbers to anything pre-pandemic. With great word of mouth and audience exits, we’ve exceeded our own and industry expectations.
This is a fairly accurate assessment, as the closest competitor to that title was Space Jam: A New Legacy, which hit only $31 million for its opening weekend. Jungle Cruise is outperforming other films currently showing too, including The Green Knight, Stillwater and, ironically, Black Widow.
Dwayne Johnson has no plans to pursue legal action with Disney over ‘JUNGLE CRUISE’.
He is said to be supportive of Disney’s decision to put the film on Premier Access.
— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) August 1, 2021
Although Dwayne Johnson could have potentially received a higher take home pay based on the theatrical Jungle Cruise performance had it reached higher numbers, the star is quite happy with Disney’s release strategy.
The Rock is cookin'
Insiders in the industry have stated that Emma Stone and Emily Blunt may be considering their options with respect to following Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit vs. Disney. However, no official word or filings have been made by either actress as of this time.
Could Dwayne Johnson’s satisfaction with the Disney arrangement be enough to dissuade them, as well as other future celebrities who have projects that are going to fall under the current same-day availability of films for theatrical release and streaming? It is difficult to determine at this time, but will certainly be a factor.
It should be noted that The Rock has been very active with creating business relationships among different studios and production companies. Aside from Disney’s Jungle Cruise, Dwayne Johnson is also in the post-production stages of Black Adam, the DCEU superhero film over at Disney’s rival company, Warner Bros. Pictures.
Another major production that Johnson is working on is the action film Red Notice (with Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds) over at another yet Disney competitor, Netflix.
With Johnson having his hands in many pies, so to speak, the losses he may incur from the hybrid release of Jungle Cruise are smaller compared to the potential future business he can do with Disney. Thus, it is logical that the superstar will not seriously consider the same lawsuit that Scarlett Johansson has filed against the House of Mouse. Plus, there are already talks that Disney is greenlighting a sequel for Jungle Cruise at this early stage.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Jungle Cruise stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Captain Frank ‘Skipper’ Wolff, Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton, Jack Whitehall as MacGregor Houghton, and Jesse Plemmons as Prince Joachim. Disney’s Jungle Cruise is now playing in theaters and on streaming through Disney+ Premier Access for $29.99.