Co-star Chan still in talks

NEW YORK — There’s nothing like a sequel to bump a star’s salary. Chris Tucker was paid $3 million for the original New Line comedy “Rush Hour,” which was his last film. He’ll get $20 million for “Rush Hour 2.”

Tucker’s deal is contingent on New Line closing a sequel deal for the other important component, Jackie Chan, who will draw near $15 million with box office bumps as an upfront salary against an unspecified backend participation.

December has turned out to be a propitious month for Tucker, who two weeks ago signed with Fox and New Regency Prods. to reteam with “Friday” director F. Gary Gray in “The Black Knight” for $15 million against a gross ranging between 12% and 15% (Daily Variety, Dec. 2).

Tucker’s $20 million “Rush Hour 2″ payday will be applied against a gross participation that exceeds the percentage he got for the Fox film. New Line would not comment on any of the figures.

“Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner is already in the fold for the sequel, as are producers Arthur Sarkissian, Roger Birnbaum and Jonathan Glickman, with a script in by Jeff Nathanson.

A sequel has been top priority for New Line, where it’s been shepherded by senior veep of production Jay Stern and prexy Mike De Luca: The original film grossed $141 million domestic and more than $100 million foreign.

The deal puts Tucker in rarified territory; he’ll become only the second African-American actor to reach that salary milestone, following Eddie Murphy, who received that sum for “Nutty Professor 2.”

He’s also among a small handful of comic leading men who’ve been paid that much, including Jim Carrey, Murphy, Robin Williams and Mike Myers, with Adam Sandler at or near that level. The question is whether that quote will stick for a nonsequel: It’s believed Murphy reached the salary pinnacle with a sequel, and it’s now his price.

Tucker hasn’t made a film since “Rush Hour,” although numerous comedy-hungry studios have tried to secure his services.

With “Rush Hour 2″ and “The Black Knight,” he thus has two firm pictures in place that will pay him $35 million in upfront salary, plus he has two projects he’s developing: a concert movie and the comedy “Guess Who’s President.”

Tucker was repped in the “Rush Hour 2″ deal by his attorney, Susan Adamson.

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