Actors and Hollywood studios aren’t exactly getting along these days, with the latter claiming they can’t properly compensate the former and the former calling BS. Here’s yet more fuel to that fire: The titular star of The Nun movies is suing Warner Bros. Discovery for allegedly stiffing her on merchandising profits.
On Tuesday, the actress, who has played the Demon Nun (a.k.a. the demon “Valak”) in several films set in The Conjuring universe, including the upcoming The Nun II, filed suit in Los Angeles against Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema. Aarons is seeking what she claims to be her “contractually required share of merchandising revenues.”
Warner Bros. “exploited the talent, creativity, and likeness of Bonnie Aarons… to enormous financial success,” states the suit, which notes that The Nun’s $365 million box office haul on a $22 million budget makes it the highest-grossing film in the Conjuring Cinematic Universe.
“The importance of Ms. Aarons’ contributions to the success of the films is undeniable,” the suit continues. “Unlike most horror movie monsters who hide behind a mask or are CGI creations, Valak is based on Ms. Aarons’ physical features. In fact, Peter Safran, a producer for The Conjuring 2 and The Nun stated: ‘The moment we saw [Ms. Aarons], with the unique geography of her face, everybody said: ‘this is exactly who we want, this is who it has to be.” Ms. Aarons’ character is so popular that her appearance in The Conjuring 2 spawned the spinoff franchise, The Nun movies, based upon Ms. Aarons’ character, as well as all manner of merchandise including toys, dolls, decorations, pins, jewelry, t-shirts, socks, bedding, costumes, drinkware, and posters all using Ms. Aarons’ likeness.”
The filing claims that Warner Bros. has “refused to account intelligibly and to pay Ms. Aarons her contractually required share of merchandising revenues.” Per the suit, Aarons was paid a fixed fee for her work on The Nun, but was allegedly offered the opportunity for additional compensation via box office bonuses and merchandise exploiting her likeness. “Instead of accounting and paying in a transparent fashion, Warner Bros. obscures and hides the same amount of Ms. Aarons’ rightful share of merchandising revenues, all while continuing to exploit her,” the suit reads.
It subsequently claims that, because of the studio’s actions, the actress “has suffered damages in an amount to be proven at trial.”
he Demon Nun was a last-minute addition to The Conjuring 2, which was directed by James Wan and starred Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. “The primary antagonist in Conjuring 2 was actually going to be depicted by this big demon,” Wan recently told EW. “I shot it that way, and then, when I got into post-production, it just felt too much. That was when I went down the path of the Demon Nun. I wanted to create an antagonist that came from a personal place for Ed and Lorraine Warren. I remember Lorraine, when she was still alive, saying that a lot of her close friends were nuns or people from the church. I thought, If a demon were to try and attack her, it would take on the image of something that is close to her, to corrupt her faith. That was how the Demon Nun came about.”
The Nun II is directed by Michael Chaves, who spoke warmly of Aarons when he talked to EW about making the film.
“Bonnie’s incredible,” said Chaves. “She can really turn it on, she really knows what’s scary, and she’s just so easy. It’s not like she’s always in this Dark Nun persona, she’s not the Method Nun.”
EW has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment.