Directors promise fight with studios over pay and safety in contract talks
As Warner Bros. prepares to ink a record-breaking pay package to protect its prized director and star, many studio chiefs are coming to terms with the reality they’ve entered into — that working in Hollywood means dealing with a lot of nitty-gritty details. Some are now fighting over what they’re willing to give on compensation to protect their stars, the stars they know well and their business.
Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara and producer-in-charge Toby Emmerich were supposed to return to the studio next week with a proposal to the board of directors on the studio’s behalf, which would provide $25 million for a studio chief to oversee the director and star of “Argo.” The studio could still approve that offer in principle, or the studio could turn it down, but the director had wanted to have that discussion at the meeting to ensure it wouldn’t be used against him if he was ultimately rejected.
Emmerich, who helped shepherd “Argo” and is now in negotiations with “Allied,” had been working on the director-star compensation package. The director had hoped to get a figure that would have been competitive with that of Peter Jackson, whose “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is a record-breaker for an episodic series.
While Emmerich declined to talk about the contract talks, Tsujihara said the two sides are talking about a better-than-expected offer. As he spoke to reporters Monday at a screening of “The Hobbit,” Tsujihara said the negotiations are ongoing.
“We’re continuing to discuss, and we’ve even been encouraged to do a little more, that would be fair,” he said. “I think we’re going to end up in a situation where we’re both happy.”
The idea of negotiating a director-star contract was first introduced at the studio’s 2011 meeting of the directors board. Emmerich has had ongoing discussion with Tsujihara since then and has been encouraged to have a dialogue with the star, according to an industry report. But “Peter Jackson has already decided that he will not be a part of the negotiation,” Tsujihara said. “We�