It takes a lot of skill to turn hugely-profitable films into net losers, and Hollywood studios have it down to an art form — one that’s often more creative than their sanitized retreads and ultra-safe franchises and reboots.
Lucasfilms, now owned by Disney, produced several Star Wars films, amassing billions of dollars. But the actor who played Darth Vader has never received any residuals from The Return of the Jedi, which was the 15th highest-grossing film of all time as of 2012. Low-budget hit The Exorcism of Emily Rose grossed $150 million on a $19 million budget. And yet, its director has yet to see a cent of his residuals, which were supposedly 5% of the net profit. Somehow $131 million just… vanished.
No matter how much is exposed about Hollywood’s complete bullshit it calls an accounting process, it will seemingly never stop screwing over everyone but the studios themselves. It’s apparently far more profitable to simply weather the criticism and occasional lawsuit.
Speaking of the latter, Richard Dreyfuss has just filed a lawsuit against Disney over missing What About Bob? residuals. His co-complainant, Christine Wagner, is the widow of the producer of Turner & Hooch. Both have a problem with the way studios do math. Both tried to bring in a third-party to take a look at Disney’s books, and both were shot down by the studio. (h/t to Techdirt reader techflaws)