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Inside Apple’s Ultra-Rich Deal for the Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell Musical ‘A Christmas Carol’

Apple has emerged victorious after shelling out for “A Christmas Carol,” a new live-action musical based on the Charles Dickens classic to star Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, numerous people close to the heated bidding told Variety.

The tech giant is in final negotiations to acquire the film, beating out rivals that include Netflix, Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures, with a lavish deal that blew away other offers.

Reynolds and Ferrell stand to make staggering amounts as producers and stars, along with significant paydays for writer-directors Sean Anders and John Morris (“Daddy’s Home,” “Instant Family”). Fees for talent alone will clock in at north of $60 million, according to numerous insiders. That includes Anders and Morris’ $10 million to $15 million paydays for creating the movie and overseeing its production.

Reynolds was asking for as much as $27 million for acting and producing services in the early negotiations, said one of the knowledgeable parties.  As Netflix got down to the nitty gritty in recent weeks, another individual said Reynolds’ team hiked his asking price to $35 million. Because the streaming service does not have a significant theatrical film presence, stars on Reynolds’ level often get inflated salaries. They are compensated for what they would normally expect in back-end box office profit sharing. In the Netflix scenario, Ferrell was looking at north of $25 million to star and produce via his Gloria Sanchez Productions banner.

Representative for Apple, Ferrell and Reynolds had no immediate comment on the matter.

Over the last weekend of September, Apple came in and “blew everyone out of the water,” another person familiar with the bidding said. While the final numbers Apple paid are unclear, the deal made with the tech giant has some unusual provisions that may become the standard in the digital content age. The filmmakers asked to retain the rights to the original music written for the film, though it is believed Apple has negotiated to retain those in the deal. Another concession on the table was a request for the movie’s copyright to revert back to the filmmakers in 20 to 25 years, an almost unheard of practice in Hollywood (though Sony Pictures and Quentin Tarantino made a similar arrangement this year for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”).

Reynolds scored a similar big payday this summer, around $20 million plus backend compensation for “Red Notice,” at Netflix alongside Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot, and before that a reported $27 million for “Six Underground” from Michael Bay.

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