Hangover cast rewarded for letting nuts swing

Senior Editor
03.31.10 9 Comments

Hollywood Execs don’t really know sh*t about comedy, which is why they originally wouldn’t finance The Hangover, which starred Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms, who were famous only to people who watch comedy.  So Todd Phillips let his nuts swing, traded his upfront fee for 15% of revenue, and the main stars (Cooper, Galifianakis, and Helms) made less than $1 mil between the three of them.  Now that it’s sequel time, the chickens have come home to roost, and those chickens are money.  Reports Deadline:

I’m told Galifianakis, Cooper and Helms will each be paid in the vicinity of $5 million against 4% of first dollar gross. Director/producer Todd Phillips will be paid around $10 million against 10%. For Phillips, there are also escalators and bonuses that insure if the sequel does anywhere close to the original’s $467 million worldwide gross, Phillips will not make less than his income on the original. That meter is still running, and it has passed the $50 million mark.

Those stars did not have options locking them into a sequel. What they did have were teams of managers, agents and attorneys who negotiated together. […] Reps of the thesps were dug in for a long battle when the studio initially came to the table offering each actor $3 million against 1% of the gross,  with a deadline attached. That deadline passed, and I heard that twice during the talks, Warner Bros chief Jeff Robinov walked away from the table and pronounced that the sequel was off.

The sequel will be considerably more expensive than the first film—upfront salary alone for the trio and Phillips is around $25 million, and the original costs $34 million all in, and Warners is paying over 20% of first dollar gross.

I believe the script is currently being worked on by Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong, but there might be others contributing.

Armstrong previously collaborated with Phillips on Road Trip, Old School, Starsky & Hutch, and School for Scoundrels.  I’d be glad if they had him and not the screenwriters for the original back, because *whispers* the script wasn’t that good. So the cast had double leverage — the studio needed them, and they didn’t really care if a sequel got made.  I’d kill for that kind of power in business negotiations.  My usual intimidation method is to slowly eat my Lunchables with a huge buck knife.

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