Weekend Reading: Box office Gross, High pays, and Shooting in Sydney

26 Apr

Here are a couple of good articles E.J. Epstein has written for Slate magazine:

The truth about box office gross {link}

“First, the reported “grosses” are not those of the studios but those of the movie houses. The movie houses take these sums and keep their share (or what they claim is their share)—which can amount to more than 50 percent of the original box-office total. Consider, for example, Touchstone’s Gone in 60 Seconds, which had a $242 million box-office gross. From this impressive haul, the theaters kept $129.8 million and remitted the balance to Disney’s distribution arm, Buena Vista. After paying mandatory trade dues to the MPAA, Buena Vista was left with $101.6 million. From this amount, it repaid the marketing expenses that had been advanced—$13 million for prints so the film could open in thousands of theatres; $10.2 million for the insurance, local taxes, custom clearances, and other logistical expenses; and $67.4 million for advertising. What remained of the nearly quarter-billion-dollar “gross” was a paltry $11 million. (And that figure does not account for the $103.3 million that Disney had paid to make the movie in the first place.)”

High pays for A-list deserved{link}

Studio executives are hardly clueless when it comes to negotiating contracts with A-list talent, although the popularity of The-Moguls-Must-Be-Crazy stories in the media would have you believe otherwise. Examples abound: The Wall Street Journal reported that, “In order to sign actress Cameron Diaz and director Nancy Meyers, the [Sony] studio had planned to offer both women a share of the movie’s gross box-office revenue from its first day of release on. It is a practice known as ‘first-dollar gross’ and it’s standard fare for top-tier talent.” Variety reported that “20 percent of the gross [of King Kong] is going to [Peter] Jackson.” Wiredreported that, “A deal worth $20 million against 20 percent of the box office gross [is] the kind of contract Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks generally get.”

Down a slightly different tack, here is an article from Timeout on the prohibitive costs to shooting in Sydney, contains interesting vox-pops with various Australian film luminaries {link}

Gillian Armstrong: “Too many people had earned a lot of money from the big US films. The local councils in Sydney can’t see the big picture. It’s really frustrating and sad to see a film like Tender Hook being shot in Melbourne when it’s set in Bondi in the 1920s. The minute Fox Studios got in, it sent out the wrong message. It did help some people, but not the local film writers/directors/producers. And it created a boom-bust situation. The Matrix and Mission Impossible II could pay those huge fees. Then the studio was empty for two years until Baz Luhrmann brought Australia in.” 

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