Warner Bros. Offering Bonuses To Stars Impacted By Streaming-Only Releases - Report

Denzel Washington is said to be getting $20 million, plus additional fees.

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Warner Brothers's unsurprising and yet also simultaneously hugely shocking move in December to announce its 2021 film slate would have simultaneous releases in theaters and on HBO Max quickly came under fire for reportedly not consulting the actors, agents, or directors of the 17 films that then comprised that planned slate. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, WB's business affairs department had been quietly and increasingly--especially over the holiday break--negotiating and overall placating some of the big-name talents that were blindsided by the shift.

One example of the costly rumored olive branches the studio has been handing out includes $20 million plus a backend fee for Denzel Washington, whose murder-mystery thriller The Little Things will be in theaters and HBO Max on January 29. An unnamed executive at a rival studio speculated that, "People are going to be very happy with their deals." But there has been concern over the discrepancy in these numbers--noting, for example, that Gal Godot received a $10 million payday from Wonder Woman 1984, which just came out Christmas Day.

The inconsistency points to another issue in the fallout from WB's sudden decision--there are not yet standard policies, formulas, or even negotiating points for equitably compensating impacted parties involved with a movie release. The Hollywood Reporter is indicating one draft proposal outlined that "talent making less than $4 million will be paid an additional 25 percent of their salary upon the release of the film as an advance against box office bonuses." There is a sliding scale for anyone making $4 million and over to receive 40 percent of their salary.

Warner Bros. has not yet officially made a comment on these deals. But even at this early date in 2021, many huge releases are slated for this year that will likely shed more light on the matter--Godzilla vs. Kong and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune are just two examples. As of December, both productions were mulling litigation against WB.

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