Franchise players, indeed.
With “The Matrix Reloaded” well on its way to the $300 million mark in domestic grosses and lots more to come internationally, star Keanu Reeves and creators Larry and Andy Wachowski will be seeing more digits in their paychecks than in the pic series’ cryptic computer codes.
For Hollywood talent, it’s a lesson in Tentpoles 101: Pick your franchises wisely and ride them for all they’re worth.
Indeed, Reeves will easily be the best-paid actor in Hollywood in 2003, thanks to a lucrative deal for “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” the capstone in the Wachowskis’ futuristic trilogy that hits theaters in November.
Reeves will pocket between $90 million and $200 million for the two pics — with the latter figure closer to the mark.
Not bad for a thesp whose last franchise experience was a pair of “Bill and Ted” pics back in 1989 and 1991 and who (fortuitously) turned down an $11 million payday for a sequel to his 1994 action hit “Speed.”
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The Wachowski Bros., who bagged about $16 million upfront for the two “Matrix” sequels, are positioned to reap additional millions in backend coin, as well as revenues from a hit vidgame ($5 million), homevideo and residuals.
Reeves’ windfall is due to an enterprising deal made by CAA and 3 Arts when Reeves agreed to reprise his role in back-to-back sequels: Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow agreed to pay $30 million against 15% of the gross for both pics.
With “Reloaded” a big hit after its first week (when the split favored the studio), Reeves has already burned through his $30 million advance on that pic and is well into earning his 15%.
The actor will also get 15% of the $700 million the pic is expected to earn abroad, not to mention a big chunk of revs from the vidgame, TV sale and other ancillaries. “Revolutions” will only feed his bank account further.
While complicated splits between Warners and Village Roadshow muddy the final profit picture, the deal provides a new reality for globally viable franchises.
It makes all the more perplexing Josh Hartnett‘s reluctance to commit to a three-pic deal with nine-figure potential for Warners “Superman” revival.