Director J.J. Abrams received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the second time when he signed on to replace Colin Trevorrow as the director of Star Wars: Episode IX, but in doing so jilted the studio he called home.
A new report states that Paramount Pictures executives are not happy with Abrams decision to helm the final film in the new Star Wars trilogy, much like they were displeased when he originally accepted the job for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Former Paramount chief Brad Grey first signed Abrams to a deal with the studio after Mission: Impossible 3 in 2006, which The Hollywood Reporter states was worth a lucrative $10 million per year for overhead and development of projects. When Abrams was finished with The Force Awakens, Grey renegotiated the deal with the intention to make his next project for Paramount.
But Abrams instead opted to return to the Star Wars universe, now angering current Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos. But could he risk arbitration? Suing the filmmaker for taking on the project?
Not likely, considering Abrams’ contract will be up in 2018. Doing so would likely sever ties and ensure the director never works for the studio in the future. And a cash cow like Abrams, whose directing and producing projects have netted over $5 billion at the box office, is better to have on your side, especially with the state that Paramount is in.
Though XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and Transformers: The Last Knight did well, the latter did not meet expectations from the previous entries in the series. And with Ghost in the Shell, Baywatch, and mother! all bombing at the box office, the studio is desperate for some wins.
And unfortunately, they won’t be able to rely on Abrams to deliver until 2019.
Two years isn’t that long when focusing on the big picture, and Paramount is likely to attempt to renegotiate to keep Abrams. Despite only directing the two Star Trek films and Super 8 since signing the contract, he’s produced the latest three Mission: Impossible films, Star Trek Beyond, and two Cloverfield movies.
The report states that Paramount could negotiate some money from Disney in exchange for Abrams’ services, though it would be a paltry seven-figure sum compared to potential box office returns. When it comes to forcing Abrams to turn down Star Wars and take on a film for Paramount, it’s not really an option.
“Saying, 'You're going to do something for us' and handing them millions of dollars for that project, you're putting yourself in great peril,” said one source. “How to enforce [a deal] is as complicated as the deals themselves.”
Star Wars: Episode IX is due in theaters on December 20, 2019.
Photo Credit: Getty / Alberto E. Rodriguez
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