Chris Tucker, your franchise is ready.
The question is, will auds be eager to revisit the “Rush Hour” franchise six years after the last installment?
New Line is betting big that moviegoers not only care about the summer 2007 bow, but will flock to see the infectious comic talents of Tucker, who hasn’t worked since 2001’s “Rush Hour 2,” a film that grossed $329 million worldwide.
High-profile sequels are a tricky lot.
Warner Bros. famously paid Mel Gibson and Danny Glover big bucks to reprise their buddy cop roles in “Lethal Weapon 4,” but execs admitted later that the studio didn’t make a dime.
This summer’s “M:I3” got the greenlight at Par only after the budget was reined in enough to satisfy Brad Grey. And that pic has Tom Cruise and his drawing power in its favor.
But Tucker hasn’t been on the bigscreen since 2001, and “Rush Hour 3” has languished largely due to his picky nature. Tucker wouldn’t sign away his script approval on the third film, and the studio wouldn’t pay seven figures to hire screenwriter Jeff Nathanson until he did.
Last week’s greenlight triggered pay or play deals that are spectacular, even by sequel standards.
Studio sources put Tucker’s payday at $20 million against 20% of the gross, though sources close to the actor say he’s getting $25 million. Co-star Jackie Chan is getting around $15 million against 15% of gross, but he also owns the film’s distribution rights in China and Hong Kong. Helmer Brett Ratner‘s payday is higher than the $5 million against 5% gross he received last time.
That means that New Line is committing more than $40 million in above-the-line salaries against 40% of gross.
Studio priority will be to keep the pic’s budget to around $120 million, and bring it in looking sharp enough to anchor its 2007 summer.