Bond 25 questions: Daniel Craig payday edition

Daniel Craig in 2016 during the Brexit campaign in the U.K.

Variety says it knows Daniel Craig’s salary for Bond 25. Naturally, that raises questions. That’s the specialty of this blog.

Is Craig getting a pay raise or pay cut?

It depends who you believe, how accurate the news account and what currency exchange rates were at the time.

Back in 2012, after Skyfall became the first “billion-dollar-Bond,” outlets such as The Independent said Craig would receive 31 million British pounds to do two more 007 films.

At 2012 exchange rates, that would mean getting $49.7 million, or almost $25 million per film. At current exchange rates, that would be closer to $42 million, or $21 million per film.

Variety’s story says Craig is getting $25 million for Bond 25.

Given the currency swings and the like, it’s hard to say one way or another.

Still, the Variety figure is FAR LESS than the $150 million, two-film deal that Radar Online claimed Craig would receive in a September 2016 story.

In 2016, some Bond fans took to social media to argue Craig was worth every penny of that supposed $150 million, two-film deal.

That argument was made despite the fact that Craig hasn’t shown any evidence of being a box office draw outside of the Bond series.

Examples: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo ($232 million global box office), and a film where Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer said resulted in a loss; Cowboys & Aliens ($174.8 million global box office); Lucky Logan ($47.6 million global box office); and Kings ($258,614 U.S. box office since April 27).

Does the Variety story mean Bond 25’s distribution/financing is wrapped up?

Not necessarily. MGM said in 2007 that Craig was signed for four more 007 films (or running through Bond 25). But one event (Craig’s contract) doesn’t directly affect the other (Bond 25’s distribution/financing).

Put another way: Craig isn’t going to collect on his contract (whatever the amount, whatever the length of time) unless there’s somebody to pay it.

MGM and Eon Productions announced a November 2019 release date back on July 24, 2017. No distribution deal was set then.

On Oct. 31, 2017, MGM and Annapurna Pictures said they formed a joint venture to release each other’s movies in the U.S. But that deal specifically exempted Bond 25.

In mid-December 2017, Barbara Broccoli said in a podcast of The Hollywood Reporter said Bond 25 distribution wasn’t set.

Maybe there’s been more progress since then. But Craig’s contract, in an of itself, doesn’t mean much.

Man of Steel soars; will it help U.N.C.L.E?

"See the guy in the cape, Illya? He's supposed to play me in the U.N.C.L.E. movie."

“See the guy in the cape, Illya? He’s supposed to play me in the U.N.C.L.E. movie.”

Man of Steel, the newest cinematic take on Superman, appears headed to a big opening weekend at the U.S. box office. Given that the movie’s star, Henry Cavill, is supposed to be play Napoleon Solo, could Man of Steel provide a boost for the prospects of a film based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.?

First the Man of Steel numbers: the Box Office Mojo Web site, in a June 13 story by Ray Subers, says “it’s very likely that the movie winds up with at least $100 million through Sunday” in ticket sales. Meanwhile, Nikki Finke at the Deadline Hollywood site, in June 14 post is going higher. Here’s an excerpt:

Superman audiences have just thumbed their noses at the new movie’s critics and given it an ‘A-’ CinemaScore. That will further help word of mouth as it’s already setting records for the biggest opening for June and the second biggest weekend opening of 2013….My sources have now refined their estimates to $46M Friday including that $9M in midnight shows (though some think the number could get as high as $50M). That makes for $120M for the three-day weekend, and $132M for the four-day cume including that $12M from Thursday 7 PM Wal-Mart shows.

For argument’s sake, lets say Man of Steel is declared a hit once preliminary weekend box office results are posted on June 16. From the perspective of the U.N.C.L.E. project, a number of questions arise:

Does Cavill end up getting at least partial credit for the box office performance of Man of Steel? If so, does that help create buzz for other Cavill projects, including U.N.C.L.E.? Does Man of Steel’s box office give Warner Bros. — which hasn’t formally announced a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie — the confidence to proceed with Cavill in the lead?

On the other hand, you can make the case Cavill’s Man of Steel may not transfer at all to U.N.C.L.E. Superman has been continuously published for 75 years and has been the subject of multiple movies and television shows. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on the other hand, went off the air in 1968. It has been 30 years since The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. television movie, with no new U.N.C.L.E. since.

Even if U.N.C.L.E. gets made, few actors guarantee a movie will be a hit. Daniel Craig’s three James Bond movies have recorded high box office ticket sales and he has said he’s signed for two more. But Craig-starring movies such as Cowboys and Aliens and The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo lost money.

UPDATE (June 16): Man of Steel sold an estimated $113 million in tickets for the June 14-16 weekend, according to THE BOX OFFICE MOJO SITE. The film’s domestic total as of today is an estimated $125 million.

A primer about movie economics

When Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie comes out this fall (October in the U.K., early November in the U.S.), some fans will check news accounts concerning ticket sales in movie theaters. Last year, the the i09 Web site provided a primer about movie economics that 007 fans may want to consult if they want to determine the financial bottom line for Skyfall.

A few of the pointers:

The final cost of a movie goes beyond its production budget: Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the Skyfall producers, have hinted that the film’s budget is about the same as the $230 million budget for 2008’s Quantum of Solace. They haven’t provided any figures, but they are presumably aware of the reported outlay for Quantum (if they’re not, that raises the question of how well they’re doing their jobs). By not denying Skyfall costs the same as Quantum, they are implying Skyfall’s outlay is about the same.

In April, Skyfall star Daniel Craig said movies generally cost as much to promote a movie as it takes to film it.

The io9 primer takes it a step further:

(T)he Print & Advertising (P&A) costs of a movie can be incredibly high — for a small $20 million film, the promotional budget can be higher than the production budget. That’s because those films are often romantic comedies or kids’ movies, which are cheap to make but still need a lot of promotion. For a film which cost between $35 and $75 million to make, the P&A budget will most likely be at least half the production budget. And the numbers only go up with bigger films.

Studios don’t get as much of a cut of opening weekend ticket sales as they used to: Again, from io9:

Nowadays, with many of the bigger Hollywood blockbusters, the theater chains just get a standard cut of the whole revenue, regardless of which weekend it comes in.

(snip)

So as a ballpark figure, studios generally take in around 50-55 percent of U.S. box office money.

For studios, international ticket sales aren’t as profitable as U.S. ticket sales:

So if a film does incredibly well overseas but flops in the U.S., does that make it a hit? As with everything else to do with box office, the answer is “it depends.” But generally, domestic revenue seems to be be better for studios than overseas revenue, because the studios take a bigger cut of domestic revenue.

According to the book The Hollywood Economist by Edward Jay Epstein, studios take in about 40 percent of the revenue from overseas release — and after expenses, they’re lucky if they take in 15 percent of that number.

So why is all of this significant? For 007 fans, there are a few reasons:

Quantum of Solace cost almost as much as a later Harry Potter movie. The later Potter films cost about $250 million to make, just $20 million more than Quantum’s reported production cost. Potter movies generated worldwide ticket sales of as much as $975 million each. The top-grossing 007 film was 2006’s Casino Royale at $596 million.

Fans often cite how Bond films get the majority of their ticket sales outside the U.S. That’s been true for quite some time. But for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Corp., which actually pay the bills (not Eon Productions), that may not be as reassuring as it sounds. Put another way, despite whatever studio bosses say in public, they’d like to see a higher level of U.S. ticket sales for Bond movies.

007’s overseas box office power is still important: Other studios would like to follow the Bond model and have higher non-U.S. sales. Again from io9:

But still, overseas box office does matter, more and more. And stars who have a huge global following are more likely to open a movie than ones who are only famous in the U.S. — just look at the fact that the world-famous Tom Cruise is still starring in movies, despite his ongoing backlash in North America. Mumpower points out that Cruise’s Knight and Day only made about $76 million in the U.S., against a production budget of $117 million. But since Knight and Day made $262 million overseas, chances are it will end up being profitable once home-video revenues are factored in.

So what’s the bottom line? Skyfall’s ultimate financial success won’t be determined only from its U.S. opening, or even its final worldwide ticket sales.

For example, The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, another movie starring Daniel Craig, had a reported budget of about $100 million and worldwide ticket sales of almost $300 million. Yet, MGM (which, like with Skyfall, co-financed the film) disclosed in March the movie was a money loser. Skyfall’s bottom line may also be more complicated. In any event, all of this is something to keep in mind when Skyfall hits theaters later this year.

MGM watch: Craig’s `Dragon Tatoo’ loses money, LA Times says

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, trying to comeback from bankruptcy, had a setback, according to the Company Town blog of the Los Angeles Times: The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, starring Daniel Craig, ended up a money loser.

Here’s an excerpt:

Returns of $231 million in worldwide box office wasn’t enough to turn a profit on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer disclosed in financial results released this week that it is booking what Co-Chief Executive Gary Barber called a “modest loss” on the film. On a conference call with shareholders, he said the independent studio, which covered 20% of the approximately $100-million production budget for the movie co-financed and distributed by Sony Pictures, needed “Dragon Tattoo” to collect about 10% more revenue in order to break even.

You can read the entire story BY CLICKING HERE. According to the Los Angeles Times, MGM is in talks with Sony to reduce the budget for any future installments.

We reference this story for a couple of reasons: 1) MGM owns half of the James Bond franchise along with Eon Productions and “Dragon Tatoo” was one of its first big projects since exiting bankruptcy; 2) Daniel Craig, the current cinema 007, was the movie’s star. When MGM was coping with its financial ills, there was speculation whether Craig would cease playing 007 while starring in “Dragon Tatoo” sequels. Whether any such sequels materialize remains to be seen.

MGM and Sony, meanwhile, are co-financing Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film and the two have committed to collaborate on Bond 24. MGM, as part of its bankruptcy plan, said it wants to get Bond films back on an every-other-year schedule, with Bond 24 coming out in 2014. That, too, remains to be seen.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times, in a SEPARATE STORY says MGM has regained control of the United Artists brand from Tom Cruise. UA, when it was actually a studio and not just a label, released the first dozen 007 films produced by Eon Productions. UA got absorbed by MGM after Transamerica Corp. dumped it. The UA name was last on a Bond film with 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies.