$15 mil to creative duo through 2000, feature awaited
Kenny is the hooded third grader whose violent death each episode has become the hallmark of the unusual animated comedy, now the highest rated series on cable.
Parker and Stone will be paid a minimum $15 million in several deals that will keep new episodes coming to Comedy Central through 2000 and pave the way for a “South Park” feature that will be distributed by Paramount in spring 1999.
The bulk of that payday, near eight-figures, will be for the duo to continue to write, produce and voice the show. It gives them lucrative participation in the merchandising, which has grown past $18 million in sales.
The duo reaped little of that merchandising windfall with their original deal, but an extension, which adds another 40 episodes to the 18 which Parker and Stone still owe Comedy Central, sweetens their participation and is retroactive to the show’s debut in Aug. 1997, an unusual deal point.
The deal crystallizes plans for the long-expected “South Park” feature. For the film, Parker and Stone will share an upfront salary near low seven figures against gross participation, said sources, and they will also get a piece of the soundtrack.
The pact also calls a truce between Comedy Central owners Viacom — which wanted the film for Paramount — and Time Warner — which wanted it for Warner Bros.
A deal was reached to make Par the active creative participant with domestic distribution rights, mainly because Par-based producer Scott Rudin had a preexisting deal with Parker on a film called “Fuzzies,” which called for an option on a second film. “South Park” became that second film, except it will come first, followed by “Fuzzies.”
Parker and Stone will write and produce the screen version of the TV show, with Parker directing.
Rudin and Rudin Prods. president Adam Schroeder will be executive producers and Comedy Central will also hold some producing capacity. Warner Bros. has the option to become a partner and take foreign distribution rights.
The agreement prevents the “South Park” feature from being submerged into suspended animation, a situation that happened with the movie version of MTV’s “Beavis and Butt-head”
when WB-based producer David Geffen, who claimed he had a deal, butted heads with Viacom chief Sumner Redstone, who owned the show. The film eventually came out under the Paramount banner, but not until the Mike Judge-created series was waning.
“South Park” should be ready for spring break 1999, when the show will be at its ratings peak.
The duo was repped by the William Morris team of Mike Simpson, Gaby Morgerman, Sophy Holodnik and Ray Solley, along with attorney Kevin Morris of Barnes Morris & Yorn.