|' Titanic ' Director
Won ' t Be Lacking
Cameron Is on Course to Get
$75 Million to $110 Million
Because of Film's Success
By John Lippman
The Wall Street Journal
(Copyright (c) 1998, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)
LOS ANGELES -- James Cameron's ship is coming in.
The director of "Titanic" stands to receive a bonus of between $75 million and $110 million for his work on the film, more than double previous estimates in Hollywood, thanks to the megasuccess of the movie, according to people close to the situation. "Titanic" to date has earned more than $1.2 billion in box-office revenues, more than any other film in history, and it swept the Oscars on Monday, winning 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
For Mr. Cameron, his whale of a payday is a sweet vindication for the director who volunteered under pressure to forgo most of his fees and profit-participation in "Titanic" as the movie's production costs soared out of control. "Titanic" cost more than $200 million to make, twice its original budget. People familiar with the situation say that the two studios that produced the film have agreed to basically restore the director's original deal on "Titanic." The film was jointly produced by Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures and News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, which agreed to share the cost. Paramount capped its investment at $65 million.
Under Mr. Cameron's original deal, the director was to receive an $11.5 million fee for his role as writer, director and producer. In addition, Mr. Cameron had so-called points in the movie, entitling him to about 15% of the revenue the Fox studio earned from "Titanic."
As costs for "Titanic" mounted, Mr. Cameron gave up everything but his $1.5 million writer's fee. Mr. Cameron also agreed to forgo half of his profit-participation on the next movie he would make for Fox. Fox executives initially estimated that if "Titanic" reached about $350 million in world-wide box-office revenue, then under his original deal Mr. Cameron would have earned between $25 million to $35 million in profit participation.
Now that "Titanic" has surpassed anyone's expectations at the box office, Mr. Cameron could end up earning anywhere from three times to four times what he would have under the original estimates. And if the movie goes to $1.6 billion at the box office, as some at Fox predict it could, Mr. Cameron may get an even bigger payday.
Fox has good reason to cut Mr. Cameron in on the "Titanic" success. His Lightstorm Entertainment is based at Fox and is currently planning a remake of "Planet of the Apes" and possibly "Spiderman."
The only unknown at the moment is how much of a contribution Paramount Pictures will make to Mr. Cameron's bonus. Paramount is entitled to about 40% of the movie's profit. Fox executives have charged their counterparts at Paramount with dragging their feet on coming to an agreement on how to reward Mr. Cameron. Paramount executives deny that is the case. People familiar with Paramount's position say the company doesn't begrudge Mr. Cameron additional fees, but the question is how much each will have to pay.
Paramount is distributing the film in the U.S., and Fox distributes it internationally.