Ever since THE HANGOVER came out, and saw tremendous success theatrically, there have been all sorts of rumors and speculation about a potential sequel. Now it looks like things may be finally moving forward. Deadline.com is reporting the Warner Bros. has completed talks with the main three cast members from the first film, and director Todd Phillips, and they’re ready to ink some contracts on a sequel. They’re reporting that Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms will each be paid around $5 million against 4% of first dollar gross. This is a rather significant increase considering all three barely got $1 million all together for their work on the first film, which had a budget of $34 million. Deadline stated Director/producer Todd Phillips will be paid around $10 million against 10%, and for him there are also escalators and bonuses that insure if the sequel makes anywhere near the original’s $467 million worldwide gross, Phillips will not make less than his income on the original. His deal on the first film was to waive his initial fee for 15% of the overall gross – he has to date made over $50 million for THE HANGOVER as a result. Talk about being smart in Hollywood!
Normally a sequel to such a successful first film wouldn’t have been difficult, but the three actors never had multiple-film options in their contracts, and no one (even Warner Bros.) had any idea how profitable THE HANGOVER would be. Their respective agents wanted to make sure that if these guys returned, they’d get a pay rate that made sense. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the first film’s success is that raunchy R-rated comedies don’t usually see returns like that.
It’s been said that even though the main three actors each got paid somewhere around $300,000 to star in the first film, Warner Bros. went ahead and cut them each bonus checks for $1 million just before sequel talks started. Smart move I suppose. Surprisingly, the sequel almost didn’t happen as there were disputes between the respective actors agents and Warner Bros chief Jeff Robinov, who reportedly at one point walked away from the table and pronounced that the sequel was off.
But it looks as if things are now on track, though the sequel is still being developed story-wise. There’s a chance filming could begin in October, depending on Ed Helms’s schedule with NBC’s THE OFFICE. The second outing will be much more pricey of a film to produce, with upfront salary alone for the trio and Phillips around $25 million. If they’re successful, Warner Bros. could potentially own Memorial Day weekend of 2011 in theaters. Deadline also noted that Justin Bartha (the first movie’s missing groom) will also return, though there’s been no discussion of what his pay would be. I really enjoyed THE HANGOVER, at least I can say I laughed to an almost embarrassing degree. Then again, I saw it in a theater filled with enthusiastic fans, and it was an advance screening. So hype may have factored into my reaction. I do think these characters could be successful in a second outing, and just based on the first film’s insane profits, it would be nice to see the actors get paid slightly better for a sequel. Are you excited about the idea of a sequel to THE HANGOVER? Tell us in the comments section below.