Trio eyes monster deal for sequel

Want to make $35,000 an hour? Just get hired to voice “Shrek 2.”

That’s about what the hourly rate could be for its stars — Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz — if all goes well with their negotiations for the sequel to DreamWorks’ summer smash.

No wonder ogres are green.

But if you think you can displace this trio, act quickly, because by the end of the week, negotiations will be underway to nail down Murphy, Myers and Diaz for the sequel at a price that could reach $5 million apiece. This would include a hefty upfront payment, unique for animated features other than “Toy Story 2.”

The three actors, who deferred their salaries to little better than scale upfront on the first film, made roughly $3 million apiece based on their share of the domestic gross, which is at $240 million.

Final negotiations are expected to take place between attorney Skip Brittenham, negotiating for Murphy, and DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg later this week. The lynchpin in all of this is Murphy, whose deal will dictate what Diaz and Myers will get. The three thesps all have “favored nation status” on the first and second pics — industry parlance which simply means that each star will receive whatever best deal is on the table.

Still, cry no tears for DreamWorks. “Shrek” is likely to wind up one of the most profitable animated movies in history. With a no gross participants and a huge ancillary market income from toys, action figures, licensing and homevid, this is one ogre with layers aplenty.

It’s worth noting that even as these deals coalesce for the immense benefit of the talent involved, the negotiator in question must unintentionally be eliciting sweaty palms for animators everywhere: Brittenham sits on the board of another animation powerhouse, Pixar.

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