Thesp eyeing $15 mil payday

In the race to secure Chris Tucker’s next outing, 20th Century Fox and New Regency Prods. seem to have won out, inking the “Rush Hour” star to an eight-figure deal to star in “Black Knight” for director F. Gary Gray.

Vaulting the actor-comedian into a new earnings stratosphere, its understood that Fox will pay Tucker between $13 million and $15 million for his services, a record payday for him at either amount. Although Fox, New Regency and the actor’s reps declined comment about the financial terms of Tucker’s deal, insiders claimed the figure is closer to $13 million, while sources close to the actor maintain that he is receiving $15 million. Either way, Tucker’s take-home pay far exceeds the $3 million he earned for 1998’s “Rush Hour,” the last film he shot.

It is also understood that Tucker will receive a 12% first-dollar gross participation, with escalators that kick in after the studio and its partner earn back their investments.

Though not yet budgeted, “Knight,” is expected to cost between $50 and $60 million and is being prepped for an April start.

Tucker has been flirting with “Knight” for a couple of months (Daily Variety, Sept. 16), but his deal was just finalized this week. While “Knight” is intended as Tucker’s next starring stint, it’s understood that the actor-comedian might shoot a concert film of his stand-up act before embarking on “Knight.”

Since the $141 million domestic-grossing “Rush Hour,” Tucker has fielded numerous offers, but has taken his time committing to any. With “Knight” wrapped up, future roles for Tucker could include “Guess Who’s President,” a comedy he co-wrote with “Knight” scribe Darryl Quarles.; “Double O-Soul,” a spy spoof in development at Universal and Imagine Entertainment; and “Rush Hour 2″ for New Line.

Tucker is repped by attorney Susan Adamson.

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