The relationship between studios and actors is a symbiotic one, with the two partners relying on each other to get a movie off the ground and into theaters for the rest of us to enjoy the end product. Yet, that alliance can sour pretty quickly if one side begins to feel slighted...especially if Savior-of-the-Theater-Experience Tom Cruise is involved.
According to Fortune, Cruise, other stars, and producers of recent Paramount Pictures films believe that they are losing out on millions of dollars due to a deal made between the studio and cable channel Epix. Cruise, who starred in the Paramount mega-hit Top Gun: Maverick, Sandra Bullock (The Lost City), and the team behind Jackass are some of the named groups behind the accusation, alleging that their earnings are comparatively less than other studio-to-streaming/cable deals, all due to Paramount earning less from Epix.
Formerly a partial owner of the lesser-known cable channel Epix, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bought Paramount and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. out of their shares in 2017. Though they had a five-year deal to exhibit their movies on the channel, Paramount bega
n to embark on creating their own streaming service, Paramount+, out of the rubble of CBS All-Access. In a new deal made with Epix in 2021, their agreement would continue for another year, while the studio could also show their new movies on the streamer only 45 days after releasing in theaters. Shortly thereafter, Netflix struck a deal with Sony, and Peacock and Amazon worked with Universal, with both studios reportedly receiving more from those streamers than Paramount received from Epix.
To break down the very complicated structure of Hollywood business, those involved in the making of a film can earn a good chunk of their profit from digital sales and a bit from residuals when films go to streamers. Of course, the real money for actors, filmmakers, and producers is in ticket sales, as, depending on their contract, they can earn a percentage of the film’s gross revenue. Since streaming is currently king, if Paramount’s deal with Epix is offering significantly less than other studios’ streaming/cable business dealings, as is alleged, that could go on to turn talent away from working with the studio in the future.
Speaking with those involved, Fortune says that this issue started coming up when talent began to notice differences in their checks between Universal and Sony vs. the Paramount payments. Representatives for Cruise, Bullock, and Jackass’ Johnny Knoxville have yet to respond to Fortune’s request for comment.
In response to all the chatter, Paramount gave a statement to Bloomberg News saying that the studio hasn’t had ownership interest in Epix for five years, and that “our agreements are entered into at market rates.”