Next recession? Pooh. Is the streaming wars over? Double pshaw.
With its high-priced spy package acquisition red t-shirta set of spy thrillers starring the daring names of Channing Tatum, David Leitch and Simon Kinberg, Amazon has shown it’s willing to pay big bucks in a era where streaming giants and major studios are rethinking cinematic strategies.
The studio has paid more than $50 million to key creative talent for an original thriller that has Tatum attached to star, Leitch attached to direct and Kinberg to write. All three produce through their respective banners, Free Association, 87North and Genre Films.
According to multiple sources, the deal calls for Tatum to receive $25 million, Leitch $18 million and Kinberg $8 million for his services. The fee, which includes production services, is one of the highest, if not the highest, in Hollywood deal history for an original pitch, with Kinberg becoming one of the highest-paid screenwriters around. His writing contract would be for 6 million dollars. The numbers include buyout that streamers pay in order to compensate for any potential backends lost due to no theatrical release. The deal also has a potential theatrical component.
CAA, which represents Tatum, Leitch and Kinberg, had no comment. Amazon also had no comment.
The deal had different permutations and could have gone different ways. Shirt hit the market the week before Thanksgiving with hopes of lighting a fire for companies’ business affairs departments. And it was hot: Tatum proved his stardom this year with two pandemic-era theatrical hits, MGM’s Dog and Paramount The lost city of D; Leitch is one of the most in-demand action directors currently working in Hollywood; and Kinberg would return to the genre that launched his writing career with Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
But the eyeballs began to pop rapidly. The price of any deal was going to be astronomical whether it went to a streamer or a studio. Some studios have made offers, even getting creative to make the numbers work. One studio offered a theatrical engagement, but only if there was a lower price. There was a request for a 45-day theatrical commitment from the studios. Tatum was offered a lower fee, but a side benefit such as 50% of a pot if the eventual film became a success.
Then some studios started to bow out. According to one person, even Netflix gave up pretty quickly, a sobering assessment in the market given that it was the company pushing the boundaries on budgets and talent compensation over the past two years. with films such as red notice and The gray man, the latter representing a budget of more than 250 million dollars. Another source, however, said the streamer held on until the end.
On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, Tatum made the decision to go with Amazon, taking the guaranteed upfront money offered by the streamer. It was, indeed, a happy turkey day for the trio and their teams.
The deal shows Amazon as an aggressive player for what it considers top talent and is another sign the company is preparing for a content push. Last week he announced a four-movie deal with Tyler Perry and landed a miniseries that will see Scarlett Johansson appear on television for the first time.
Tatum is also replaced by law firm Hansen Jacobson, Leitch is also replaced by Johnson Shapiro and Kinberg by Jackoway Austen.