When we think about movies and making money, our minds immediately go to actors who make countless millions of dollars after every movie they put out, directors who also make a copious amount of money, as well as the movie studios. One thing many people forget, however, is that in order for these people to make money you need to have a story in the first place. Yes, and in order to have a story in a movie, you need a script.
It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest talents in front and behind the camera, if you don’t have a good story, it is just not going to sell. This is why many scripts and screenplays that become the most beloved and profitable movies in history are auctioned off between studios, and the winners have to pay millions of dollars. Here are 10 of the most expensive movie scripts.
10 Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park is a classic. It is almost impossible for you to go anywhere around the world and find a person who has not seen Jurassic Park at any point in their life. Maybe some people have watched the newer ones, but the first one is a classic and that is where the entire story began. A lot of times, when they sell their screenplays to the studio, the writers will only get a fee, but Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton had a good idea of how much his story would sell, so he accepted a mere $1.5 million fee from the studio.
Nevertheless, he also got a cut of the gross after the movie was released, which in this instance means a cut of the $400 million it made in the box office.
9 A Knight's Tale
Next in line, we have another classic. Although it did not make as much money in the box office as Jurassic Park did, 2001’s A Knight’s Tale earned its author Brian Helgeland a hefty $2.5 million once he sold the script to the studio. The movie went on to make $65 million in the box office, which is less than $10 million more than its budget.
It also got a bunch of mixed reviews, but for the people who loved it, the movie became a cult classic, much because of the influence of the performance put in by Heath Ledger as William Thatcher.
8 Mozart and the Whale
Sometimes film studios and directors are happy putting out a product that they know will be recognized in award ceremonies and will become a cult classic in the future once people realize how much of a genius of a project that was. That is how many of them deal with not making money, or in this case, losing a lot of money when making a movie.
Ronald Bass made a $2.75 million with his script of Mozart and the Whale, which makes us think that the movie would’ve been quite successful. No, at the end of the day this was a disappointing motion picture that made the studio less than $100,000 in the box office.
7 Medicine Man
It is not guaranteed that you will nail another Academy Award-winning performance after you write a script that wins the award. Nevertheless, it is pretty much guaranteed that you can get a huge payday when selling your next script following such a victory. That is what happened with Tom Shulman after Dead Poet’s Society won the big prize. He wrote the script for Medicine Man and received a hefty $3 million for his work.
Don’t get us wrong, the movie wasn’t a huge flop. Still, it had a budget of $46 million, but only gave the studio a return of around $45 million. It wasn’t a huge flop, but it certainly wasn’t the kind of script you would want to pay $3 million for.
6 Basic Instinct
We started talking about major movies early on as we mentioned Jurassic Park, and as you could have very well guessed, we will not be slowing down in terms of mentioning movies you have likely watched. A lot of people reading might not have even been alive when Basic Instinct came out in 1992, but there is a good chance you have heard at least once or twice about Sharon Stone’s performance in that movie.
Leaving her legendary performance aside, this movie was a gigantic hit in the box office. It made a whopping $118 million, more than double its $49 million budget. It was well worth the $3 million they paid author Joe Eszterhas.
A lot of movies fall into the category that you either love or you hate. That is especially true when it comes to raunchy comedies. EuroTrip was no different, as it was not a gigantic hit in the box office, nor did it make a huge splash with the critics when it hit the big screen. Nevertheless, the people who loved that movie, adore it like a religion. Yeah, it is not the kind of movie you are going to watch with your kids, but for people who are looking for a comedic relief on a Saturday afternoon, there is nothing wrong with going with EuroTrip.
The movie made $18 million but had a budget of $25 million. Yeah, not the kind of thing the studio would do again, same with the $4 million writers fee they paid the author for the script.
4 The Long Kiss Goodnight
Shane Black certainly got a lot of star power to bring to life the characters he wrote in The Long Kiss Goodnight as Geena Davis and Samuel L Jackson starred in the motion picture. This is a movie that received good reveals when it came to critics. Unfortunately for the author, and especially for the movie studio, it did not receive as many good reveals when it came to the audience, which is who actually pays for the project at the end of the day. The result was that they pulled in $33 million from the box office but actually had to spend $65 million on the budget of the film.
When it comes to the script, the writer was paid a solid $4 million for the words he put on paper.
3 Talladega Nights
We talked about the movie industry as having a lot of you either love it or hate it motion pictures. When it comes to comedy a lot of that has to do with the actors who are going to bring the movie to life. This goes up to a whole other level if you are writing a script and you are going to put yourself in the movie. Nevertheless, this is common ground for a few of the most famous comedy actors in the world, as is Will Ferrell. He wrote Talladega Nights alongside Adam McKay, and they made a good $4 million off of that script. Still, while that special number was not enough to earn good returns for some movies on our list, apparently Ferrell has more people who love him than who hate his brand of comedy.
This motion picture pulled in a ridiculous $148 million, more than recovering the $72 million it was budgeted for.
2 Panic Room
Writing a good story is not easy. Writing a good story with a lot of space to work, is still very hard. Writing a whole story that goes on to be one of the best movies on the big screen the year it comes out, where most of the plot takes place in one room qualifies someone as a master. David Koepp wrote the masterpiece called Panic Room that was released in 2002 and made $4 million for of it.
The special thing about this movie is that most of it takes place inside a single room. The number of emotions that go on inside that room and everything we go through with the family trapped there certainly makes us think that the payday he got for the script was well-deserved. It also helps that the studio made more than $96 million in the box office.
1 Déjà Vu
Writing a sci-fi plot that is engaging and surprising is already hard enough as it is. To put time travel in the middle of it and to make people like it seems like an impossible task. Nevertheless, that is what happened with Déjà Vu in 2006. The movie starring Denzel Washington was a big hit despite the fact that it did not recover its $75 million budget as it only made $64 million in the box office.
Still, it was one of those movies that everyone who watched is not going to forget. Another reason for you not to forget about it is that the authors, Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio, received a writer’s fee of $5 million for the script they wrote for the movie.