The Guy Who Played Darth Vader Never Earned A Cent In Star Wars Royalties
The role of Darth Vader in Star Wars may have made James Earl Jones a legend, but the guy who actually wore the suit, David Prowse, had no such luck. If you don't know the story, the short version is that Prowse performed as Vader, acting and speaking in all the scenes, as actors do, only to have his voice later overdubbed by Jones without his knowledge. One of the most iconic roles in movie history was half-yanked out from under his nose. He never starred in another movie again after the Original Trilogy. But at least he went on to live the high life on Star Wars' smash hit profits, right?
Nope! After his last paltry paycheck for Return Of The Jedi, Prowse never saw a single cent from the films, despite the fact that he signed a contract specifying that he would earn an ongoing percentage of their net profits. The problem is that the films officially never made any profit. That's right: Star Wars, the biggest movie franchise of all time, never made back its investment.
"I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further." -- George Lucas to Darth Vader
In fact, almost no movie ever has. A whopping 80 percent of all Hollywood films record that they lost money and made zero profit. Holy shit, how does the industry even exist? To find out, we need to dive into the batshit world of Hollywood accounting. Here's how it works: If you read the credits at the end of any high-budget movie, you'll usually see a credit to something like "Batman v. Superman LLC Inc." That's because every movie is set up as its own company, independent but answerable to the studio that produces it. The studio then proceeds to charge the shell company several times what it truly costs to make the movie, so even if the film makes crazy profits at the box office, the shell company will never be able to pay the studio back. That's okay, because the shell company and the studio are the same people. On the books, however, the movie records a loss, which means they don't have to pay anyone stupid enough to accept "net" points in their contract. Always get the gross points, kids.
How is all this legal, you ask? Hahaha, you sweet innocent fool with ribbons in your hair. It's not! But like any giant industry, how much that matters depends on how good your lawyer is. One lawyer, Neville Johnson, has spent his career fighting the studios over this bullshit, and in most cases, the studios wind up settling out of court. Which, in case you've still retained some of those hair ribbons, is legal speak for "We're guilty, but we'll give you some money to pretend we're not."
The Conjuring Offered A "Contest" For Sequel Ideas Where The Prize Was $50 And No Credit
Horror film series The Conjuring has had an absurd number of spinoffs centered on seemingly every side character or object that's appeared in the main franchise. They made two movies about that spooky Annabelle doll that showed up in a prologue in the first movie. They made a movie about the demonic nun who turns up occasionally in the sequel. They're making one that's about the Crooked Man ghost that climbs out of a children's toy. It's gotten to the point where Warner Bros. is now calling on Conjuring fans (known as "Conjurers" or "Warreners") pick the next piece of Conjuring scenery that gets its own movie. In fact, a contest called "My Annabelle Creation" recently wrapped up. It invited budding filmmakers to make a short film based on the Conjuring franchise.