Upcoming recession? Pshaw. Streaming wars over? Double pshaw.
With its high priced acquisition of spy package Red Shirta spy thriller package with the bold-faced names of Channing Tatum, David Leitch and Simon Kinberg, Amazon has shown it is willing to pay big bucks in an era when streaming giants and major studios are rethinking movie strategies.
The studio has ponied up more than $50 million to the key creative talent for an original thriller that has Tatum attached to star, Leitch attached to direct, and Kinberg writing. All three are producing via their respective banners, Free Association, 87North, and Genre Films.
According to multiple sources, the deal calls for Tatum to be paid $25 million, Leitch to get $18 million, with Kinberg nabbing $8 million for his services. The fees, which include producing services, are one of the highest, if not the highest, in Hollywood dealmaking history for an original pitch, with Kinberg becoming one of the highest paid screenwriters around. His writing deal is said to be for $6 million. The numbers include the buyout that streamers pay in order to make up any potential backend lost from not having a theatrical run. The deal also has a potential theatrical component.
CAA, which reps Tatum, Leitch and Kinberg, had no comment. Amazon also had no comment.
The deal had different permutations and could have gone a number of different ways. Shirt hit the market the week before Thanksgiving with expectations of lighting a fire for companies’ business affairs departments. And it was a hot one all right: Tatum proved his star quality this year with two pandemic-era theatrical hits, MGM’s Dog and Paramount’s The Lost City of D; Leitch is one of the most in-demand action directors currently working in Hollywood; and Kinberg would be returning to the genre that kicked off his writing career with Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
But eyeballs started popping quickly. The price for any deal was going to be astronomical, whether it went to a streamer or studio. Some studios made bids, even getting creative to make the numbers work. One studio offered a theatrical commitment but only if there was a lower price point. There was an ask for a 45-day theatrical commitment from studios. Tatum was offered a lower fee but a backend upside such as 50 percent of a pot if the eventual movie became a hit.
Then certain studios started bowing out. According to one person, even Netflix dropped out rather quickly, a sobering assessment of the marketplace given this was the company that was pushing the boundaries of budgets and talent pay in the last couple of years with movies such as Red Notice and The Gray Man, the latter of which came at over $250 million in budget. Another source, however, said the streamer stuck it out near the end.
On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, Tatum made the decision to go with Amazon, taking the guaranteed upfront money being offered by the streamer. It was, indeed, a happy turkey day for the trio and their teams.
The deal shows Amazon as an aggressive player for what it sees as top talent and is another sign that the company is gearing up for a content push. In the last week, it announced a four-picture movie deal with Tyler Perry and landed a mini-series that will see Scarlett Johansson move into TV work for the first time.
Tatum is additionally repped by law firm Hansen Jacobson, Leitch is additionally repped by Johnson Shapiro, and Kinberg by Jackoway Austen.
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