Nuns are all the rage these days, with Mrs. Davis and Derry Girls bringing piety to TV and Warrior Nun and The Nun II launching religious warfare to cinemas. But one nun is having none of it.
Bonnie Aarons, the actor who plays the demon nun Valak in The Nun, The Conjuring II, and the upcoming Nun II, is suing Warner Bros. Discovery, New Line Cinema, and Scope Productions over merchandise revenue from her role as the big bad of The Conjuringiverse. The A.V. Club has contacted Warner Bros. Discovery and New Line Cinema for comment.
Aarons’ lawyers argue that her character’s success is based on the actor’s likeness, quoting WB executive and Conjuring producer Peter Safran, who said, “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.’” Since her appearance in Conjuring 2, the character has spawned a spin-off, which grossed $365 million worldwide, 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 lawsuit states. However, while WBD was producing an ungodly amount of Nun merch, Aarons alleges she only received $71,500 for her work in The Nun. Her contract stipulates “the opportunity for additional compensation through box office bonuses” and that she would receive a cut of the gross receipts from “merchandise exploiting Ms. Aarons’ likeness.” That did not happen, according to her lawyers, who accuse the studios of obscuring the “true amount of Ms. Aarons’ rightful share of merchandising revenues, all while continuing to exploit her.”
Aarons was already a screen icon before becoming a common thread across the Conjuring movies. In 2001, she played the scariest character in film history: Mulholland Drive’s “Bum” behind Winky’s diner. But her nun work transcends horror. The actor also appeared in two episodes of Mrs. Davis, offering credibility to the fledgling nunnery.
Aside from Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s Ed and Loraine Warren, Valak is arguably the most successful character in the franchise. Look, we know Annabelle starred in three solo movies and appeared in a couple of Conjurings, but The Nun remains the highest-grossing movie in the franchise. Not bad for a character shoehorned into The Conjuring 2 after director James Wan deemed the original monster “too out of left-field for the film.”
[via The Hollywood Reporter]