Hollywood Trims Star Deals
It's curtains for deals that pay actors before studios recoup losses
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2009 7:50 AM CDT
Potential losses from the underperforming "Duplicity," for which Julia Roberts was paid several million dollers up front, underscore the pressure on Hollywood to drop such guarantees for stars.   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
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(Newser) – In this economic climate, even Hollywood has become risk-averse, forcing actors to share in a film’s success or failure, the Wall Street Journal reports. “First-dollar gross” deals, which pay actors handsomely even when films flop, are out of favor. For years, top actors drew deals paying a percentage—as much as 20%—of a studio’s box-office take from the very first dollar made, regardless of whether the studio recouped its losses.

"They're just not going to keep losing vast amounts of money while paying out millions to the first-dollar-gross players," one agent said of the studios, who have been stung by slumping DVD sales and evaporating Wall Street investment funding. Back-end deals, which call for smaller up-front payments and a percentage of receipts counted after the studio recoups its investment, have recently attracted talent like Steve Carell and Harrison Ford.