- The Nun star Bonnie Aarons has sued Warner Bros. for allegedly withholding her share of merchandise profits, claiming that the documents provided were inconsistent.
- Aarons played the demonic nun Valak in The Conjuring 2 and reprised the role in The Nun, which became the franchise’s highest-grossing film.
- Her original contract included fixed compensation and a bonus based on box office performance, but also stipulated a share of merchandise licensing profits.
The Nun star Bonnie Aarons has sued Warner Bros. for allegedly hiding her proper share of merchandising profits. Aarons plays the demonic nun known as Valak, who first appeared haunting Vera Farmiga’s Lorraine Warren in 2016’s The Conjuring 2. In addition to making a cameo in the background of a photo in 2017’s Annabelle: Creation, Aarons reprised the role as the lead antagonist in 2018’s The Nun (which became the highest-grossing movie in the franchise) and is set to return in the upcoming sequel The Nun II.
Per the Guardian, Aarons filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. on Tuesday. Allegedly, her original contract for The Nun 2018 involved a “fixed compensation” of $71,500 with a bonus of $175,000 based on box office performance, both of which were paid out. However, it also stipulated “pro-rata share of 5% of 50% of the gross receipts” for licensing of her face on merchandise, and Aarons alleges that the documents Warner Bros. provided between 2019 and 2022 were “inconsistent with the extensive merchandising activities.” Read a pertinent excerpt from the suit below:
Aarons’ complaint claims that, between 2019 and 2022, Warner Bros sent her written statements showing her share of revenue, which she alleges was “[Between 2019 and 2022, written statements sent by Warner Bros. were] inconsistent with the extensive merchandising activities. [When asked for elaboration, the studio sent a] spreadsheet that contained line items corresponding to only a fraction of the known licences.
Instead of accounting and paying in a transparent fashion, Warner Bros obscures and hides the true amount of Ms Aarons’ rightful share of merchandising revenues, all while continuing to exploit her.
Hollywood Has a History of Accusations of Creative Accounting
Bonnie Aarons’ lawsuit is far from the first time that Hollywood studios have been accused of withholding an artist’s true share of a movie’s profits. One of the most prominent cases involves Men in Black 1997 screenwriter Ed Solomon. Solomon claims that the studio has consistently informed him that the movie is in the red despite making $589.4 million off a $90 million budget and launching a four-movie franchise.
Solomon’s claims led several directors and writers to reveal that profit statements for their successful projects also reflected zero profit, including the creators behind titles such as Source Code, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Army Wives. This issue is similar to those that are at the center of the ongoing Hollywood strikes as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) fight for fair pay. As the strikes continue, many writers and actors have shared their shockingly small residual checks for successful streaming series.
It remains to be seen how this particular lawsuit plays out. Aarons’ suit is well-timed to earned public support, however, considering the issues at the center of the dual strikes and the fact that she is starring in a new movie that could very well be another box office success for the franchise. Considering how much more merchandise for the The Nun subfranchise is likely about to start hitting the market, her argument could prove to hold water.