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Which actor or actress squeezed the studios the best


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I have not read about the financials of the actors much, which did the best job of taking it to the studios. So if you factor in inflation, which ones did the best job of getting every penny they could out of the studios, especially if the studios lost money on them. That is the ultimate squeeze.

 

I imagine there is one that did the best of them all and I think i know which one it is but am curious what others think.

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I have not read about the financials of the actors much, which did the best job of taking it to the studios. So if you factor in inflation, which ones did the best job of getting every penny they could out of the studios, especially if the studios lost money on them. That is the ultimate squeeze.

 

I imagine there is one that did the best of them all and I think i know which one it is but am curious what others think.

Well, Jimmy Stewart was the first to get a % of the gross, rather than a fixed amount from the studios, for a film (WINCHESTER 73), arranged for him by super-agent Lew Wasserman. In many cases, that sort of deal got a lot more money fror actors.

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James Cagney was certainly well-known for the turbulent relationship he had with Warner Bros. throughout his time at the studio. Cagney was one of the first actors to beat a major Hollywood studio in a contract dispute.

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Well, Jimmy Stewart was the first to get a % of the gross, rather than a fixed amount from the studios, for a film (WINCHESTER 73), arranged for him by super-agent Lew Wasserman. In many cases, that sort of deal got a lot more money fror actors.

 

IIRC some other actors had gotten small percentages of the gross before. I believe what was different about the Stewart deal was that he took a large piece of the gross in lieu of salary, making him essentially a partner in the production.

 

Also by this time I think there were tax laws in place that made such a deal even more desirable for the actor.

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I imagine there is one that did the best of them all

 

How about the one that did the worst?

 

Marlon Brando ran up huge phone long-distance bills -- something like $50K -- while filming The Nightcomers in England. While shooting his next film he asked the studio for the money to pay his phone bill. The studio chief, Robert Evans, agreed to give it to him, but only if Brando gave up his points in the film he was shooting -- The Godfather.

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How about the one that did the worst?

 

Marlon Brando ran up huge phone long-distance bills -- something like $50K -- while filming The Nightcomers in England. While shooting his next film he asked the studio for the money to pay his phone bill. The studio chief, Robert Evans, agreed to give it to him, but only if Brando gave up his points in the film he was shooting -- The Godfather.

 

Yes RK, but don't forget here that...and according to Brando's Wiki page:

 

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Brando was paid a record $3.7 million ($14 million in inflation-adjusted dollars) and 11.75% of the gross profits for 13 days work playing Jor-El in Superman, further adding to his mystique.

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In the early years of the Depression when studios were asking their employees to take pay cuts, Constance Bennett commanded and got $30,000 a week.  In fact, her 1931 contract with Warner Brothers, which called for 2 films for $300,000, made her the highest-paid film player up to that time and, supposedly, was responsible for tax legislation aimed at the film industry.

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Yes RK, but don't forget here that...and according to Brando's Wiki page:

 

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Brando was paid a record $3.7 million ($14 million in inflation-adjusted dollars) and 11.75% of the gross profits for 13 days work playing Jor-El in Superman, further adding to his mystique.

Johnny Depp got paid  $35,000,000 in 2011.  Guess he got it stashed somewhere in the Caribbean.

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John Gilbert and Kay Francis were among the highest-paid stars of their time and forced MGM and Warners, respectively, to pay off their contracts even after those studios tried to sabotage their careers with lousy film aissgnments.

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Dietrich got a pretty good deal from Paramount while it lasted. Didn;t she get script and director approval plus a big pile of cash too? I know the director approval was put in there so von Sternberg could direct her, but still, for 1930, that was unheard of.

 

Katharine Hepburn did very well (again while it lasted) out of RKO for a newbie--nearly $1400/week? And it went up from there I believe.

 

They both came in with a bang! too--no slow build up as with most other stars--they were stars from the first. And both "fell" pretty hard, probably because they were so unique (in my opinion) the studios probably didn't really know what to do with them. Neither one of them had many roles that were ideal for them in their original studios. Hepburn had Little Women, Morning Glory, Alice Adams and Bringing Up Baby  and Dietrich got Morocco, Shanghai Express and Desire. In contrast, Hepburn also did The Little Minister, Break of Hearts, Spitfire and Mary of Scotland, none of which fit her and Deitrich got mired in von Sternberg's crazy decadent masochisctic fantasy world, making movies which, while critically acclaimed now, were flops back in the day. No wonder they got named "Box Office Poison,"

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