With third-party financing deals drying up and DVD sales falling, Hollywood's major studios are now cutting first-dollar deals with top stars -- that is, deals that guarantee the actors a percentage of the gross whether or not the film is profitable, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Thursday). "The days...where the star gets whatever he wants and gets paid through the roof -- those days are over, for everybody," Eric Gold, a producer and manager of such clients as Jim Carrey and Ellen Degeneres, told the newspaper. "You can be the hottest thing in Hollywood, but if the economics don't match it, it doesn't mean anything....The studios are pushing back and they have to play the margins." Studios are switching to back-end deals, those that guarantee stars a percentage of the gross only after the studio recoups its costs, the WSJ observed, noting a few exceptions, such as Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. However, it noted, Roberts's current film, Duplicity, which cost $60 million to make, is underperforming at the box office (it has brought in about $27 million to date), but while Universal Pictures is likely to lose money on it, Roberts is guaranteed to receive several million dollars.

02/04/2009