In short, contract disputes were the reason the Cinderella Story actress and Disney parted ways. Negotiations went south while laying out a deal for a sequel to The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which premiered in 2003 amid season 2 of the sitcom.
”Disney thought they’d be able to bully us into accepting whatever offer they wanted to make, and they couldn’t,” the actress’ mother, Susan Duff, who managed Hilary’s career during the early years, told Entertainment Weekly in 2003 after the deal unraveled. “We walked away from a sequel. They walked away from a franchise.”
Susan added, “We weren’t feeling the love … They weren’t giving Hilary the respect she deserved.”
Disney executives also released public statements at the time. “We feel we were generous and we reached to make this happen,” Nina Jacobson, former president of Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group, told the Los Angeles Times. ”We’re only sorry the other side didn’t feel the same way.”
The outlet reported at the time that the point of contention had to do with a $500,000 bonus Disney promised Hilary once The Lizzie McGuire movie reach $50 million. After a strong opening weekend at $17.3 million, the series’ first film grossed $55.5 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
At the time, a Disney source claimed to EW that Hilary’s attorney “misstepped greatly” when the Duff family allegedly demanded the bonus be paid immediately, resulting in Disney pulling all the potential deals off of the table.
For her part, Susan came to the defense of her daughter, claiming the network was releasing false narratives. ”Disney kept leaking stuff and using undisclosed sources,” the showbiz mom said. “And because we didn’t say anything, it sounded like it was true. I thought it would run its course, but they kept coming at us. In my wildest dreams, I cannot imagine adults beating up on a 15-year-old kid in the papers like they have.”
While Hilary didn’t publicly comment on the situations, she said she was “very supportive” of her parents’ “involvement” in her career via a statement.
Nearly 20 years after Lizzie McGuire premiered, Hilary signed on for a Disney+ reboot of the famed show. However, the series fell through seemingly due to creative differences.
“I think they are really trying to figure out what kind of content they want living on Disney+ and that doesn’t totally align with, like, where I see Lizzie right now,” the Cheaper By the Dozen actress said in an interview on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show.
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