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January 02 2005

Gellar is a bargain. A columnist tries to explain why SMG only got paid 600,000 dollars for her role in 'The Grudge'. It's at the bottom of the page, the last question.

http://www.gulfnews.com/Articles/FeaturesNF.asp?ArticleID=143404

This comment seems to suggest that the money wasn't the prime consideration

"Tabloid: What drives you to be so ambitious? Is it the fame and the money, or are your ambitions artistic?

SMG: I love what I do. I like the fact that we made The Grudge for just $10 million (Dh36.7 million). There was no financial gain for me in making this film. By the time I left Japan, I had probably lost money"
In the past there has been much weird and wonderful speculation regarding Gellar's earnings, much of which I have always assumed to be wildly inaccurate. As way of an example, $350,000 per epiosde for BtVS just doesn't tie in with the overall budget (and ratings) of that show, and comparisons that can be made with shows such as 'The West Wing'.

The fact remains that comparatively few female actors have the earning capacity of their male counterparts. I think this is wrong, but it remains a sad fact of life, and not just in the film industry. Gellar has had some box office success, but she is not high profile by any stretch of the imagination. That aside, the point of course is that when Julia Roberts makes a small budget film like Full Frontal she is not paid the multi-million fee she can allegedly demand for something like Ocean's Twelve.

Moving on from that, for those who might be interested, the start of production on Southland Tales is reported to be February 2005. Revolver will be directed by Asif Kapadia, who wrote and directed a rather good Hindu-language film called The Warrior a few years back. As to The Grudge 2, I don't know if there is actually any official confirmation of Gellar's involvement as yet, although it would hardly come as a shock to find out that she is on board.
A lot of actors will do independent or lower budget films hoping that it will showcase their overall talent, especially those coming from TV wanting to break into movies, Tom Hanks etc all did their fair share of low budget, low paid films before making it big time.

And those coming from cult hit tv shows have it even harder, they are never nielsen top 10 shows, and often many movie producers will only give them a few chances to prove they can draw a audience or it's over,David Duchovny being a good example.
"$350,000 per epiosde for BtVS just doesn't tie in with the overall budget"

That was only supposed to be for Season 7 and possibly season 6 and would tie in with UPN making a loss on buying the series
Gellar's deal for The Grudge could have been more of a back-end deal where she gets part of the film's profits.
Well, whatever her reasoning behind it, it was a smart choice of a film even though it paid so little (little by hollywood standards that is). It was a huge hit and got her name out there more. She sounds like she's got some nice movies coming in the future and she seems to be picking a variety of roles.
a lot of actors take less money for movies they think will help their career, SMG might have thought that this would be a break out film (the Japanese director is huge in Asia, could be she thought he could be the next Ang Lee...someone who is poised to make it big in the West)...
And since 'The Grudge' has been deemed a big success (in spite of some very bad reviews), I think SMG could have been right.
It could lead to bigger and better things.

[ edited by embers on 2005-01-03 00:47 ]
Yes, it's a kind of loss leader thing (like the time I actually went to Target the day after Thanksgiving to buy 2 copies of Season 7 for $17.77 and left with them, along with an CD player/radio I had no expectation of buying.) SMG didn't go broke making "The Grudge" but by starring in a big hit (not quite blockbuster, but damned successful) she has greatly enhanced her status, meaning she can be immensely more selective in roles in the future. Good luck, Sarah, and good choosing!
The problem is that with a movie like the Grudge, the film industry sees Sony's marketing ability, not SMG's box office bankability. I have a friend that works in marketing for Sony Pictures. Sony spends far more than any other studio on marketing. The Grudge was marketed exactly like Darkness Falls. Darkness Falls opened #1 and made far more money than anyone thought, yet it did nothing for Emma's career. Sarah's landed another indie horror film, and Southland Tales (which still hasn't begun shooting). She hasn't landed any more higher profile roles. Sony hasn't given her a starring role in something like a romantic comedy. The way they work, if they though SMG was the next big thing, they would. The Grudge 2 is being written, but SMG's character isn't guaranteed to be in it. To Sony, they probably think that they can replace SMG with any hot blonde actress (and someone cheaper than Sarah). To them, horror movies are all about marketing, not the star.
what indie horror film, FaithFan? Revolver isn't horror. Its a thriller, which goes in the same category as Seven or Memento. Sarah has said she doesn't want to play roles such as "leading man's wife" or "leading man's girlfriend" so that rules out all romantic comedies.

[ edited by eddy on 2005-01-03 01:17 ]
Well eddy, Bridget Jones was a romantic comedy and Renee Z's character was the LEAD. So it doesn't rule out all romantic comedies. And I'd lay money that if she was to play, say, Brad Pitt's girlfriend? Doubtful that she'd turn up her nose.
The Grudge was marketed exactly like Darkness Falls. Darkness Falls opened #1 and made far more money than anyone thought, yet it did nothing for Emma's career.

Yeah, i saw Emma Caufield on all the talk shows, every press junket and premiere and... Oh wait, no, i didn't. Nor did i see EC on a single cover of any magazine or really mentioned in any of the reviews of said movie. Maybe it was intended to be marketed the same, however, it certainly did not look like it from my measly little perspective.

Sarah's landed another indie horror film

as eddy pointed out, REvolver is not an idie horror film.

Sony hasn't given her a starring role in something like a romantic comedy.

Well, that's a relief.

The way they work, if they though SMG was the next big thing, they would.

I'm sorry, but you having a friend in the "business" does not give you anymore qualification or authority on the subject than the rest of us. Preach it as your opinion and not as fact, as we all have.

The Grudge is not making or breaking SMG, but it has been a good step in the right direction, in my opinion. And I'll leave it at that and wish the best for SMG.

[ edited by syd on 2005-01-03 01:38 ]
This thread does seem to be in danger of becoming a little bit heated and I don't really want to fan the flames.

FaithFan does have a valid point. Gellar's short-term bargaining power has probably been strengthened by the success of 'The Grudge' and she does already have a fair sized fanbase. From my perspective, as someone who knows very little about the workings of the film industry, I would say that what happens with her next few films will be what's important. Her career could still so easily stall.

Personally, I don't think it will. I think she has enough ambition, self-determination, knowledge of the business she works in, and talent, to keep on doing what she does and be successful at it. However, it strikes me as a very precarious business and I don't think anything should be taken for granted.
"She hasn't landed any more higher profile roles. Sony hasn't given her a starring role in something like a romantic comedy. The way they work, if they though SMG was the next big thing, they would"

It's more true to say nothing has been announced.

News of SMG in the Grudge broke around Decemner 12 2003 but according to interviews she has done since she had been working at obtaining the role since at least early October

So Sony may well have offered her other and larger roles and she is still considering them

Incidently she has indicated in interviews that romantic comedys are not really her favourite type of movie to star in
I was really excited about how well The Grudge did, but the impression I get from my friend at Sony is that they don't exactly see SMG as a box office draw. And that's the difference from moving from Scooby Doo, teen movies, and horror flicks to larger roles - the difference from making $500,000 a movie to $2 million. There's a new actress of the moment every week. What's the difference between SMG and someone like Mischa Barton or Evangeline Lilly? They've made plenty of magazine covers and appearances on Leno. Or maybe the blondes starring in The Inside or Point Pleasant if those shows become successful. Those types of actresses have the popularity of Sarah, but a much lower asking price.

SMG's success with The Grudge is tempered by the 25-30 million Sony spent advertising it. Will people go to see a movie just because SMG is in it? From Sony's advertising of the Grudge, they didn't think so. Everyone remembers Cat-Boy from the tv spots, not Sarah, and she was barely in the tv spots.

Sarah would be terrific in one of the multitude of comedies Sony cranks out like Little Black Book, but I don't think she can land those types of roles even though she has more fan on the internet than someone like Brittany Murphy (who has the same manager as Sarah and Eliza)

After the Grudge the only role she's landed a horror flick from the independent studio that made Seed of Chucky. Sarah has horror movie drawing power. Honestly I think doing more and more horror/thrillers just cements SMG's reputation as a teen scream queen.

[ edited by FaithFan on 2005-01-03 05:09 ]
Well, Faithfan, I respect your opinion but I just don't agree with it. SMG was heavily associated with the movie. She was the "big" name used in all the advertisements and she heavily promoted the movie. Others were in the movie but it wasn't their name be thrown about everywhere. Every promo I saw for the movie had SMG very prominent in it. I love EC but when she did Darkness Falls they didn't exactly have her out promoting the film, with her name plastered over the title and I don't recall her being on talk shows, entertainment shows and magazine covers left and right to promote the film. A lot of people feel that it was SMGs promoting of the film that helped it be a big hit.

And there's a huge difference between Mischa Barton and SMG. People who didn't even watch BtVS know who she is. I know a lot of people who don't watch the show but when SMGs name comes up they immediately recognize her as Buffy. The only reason I know who Mischa Barton is is that she's been mentioned on this site a couple of times. Other than that, I wouldn't have a clue as to who she is. And Evangeline Lilly hasn't been around enough to give her a fair comparison to SMG.

Yes, it's too early to determine if SMG will have a successful hollywood career but she's off to a good start. Who heard of Naomi Watts before The Ring was such a big hit? She now has the luxury of being more picky with her roles. SMG has been linked to a couple of promising movies and I'm looking forward to seeing them.

As for her comments as to not wanting to be "someone's girlfriend" or "someone's wife", well I agree with Willowy that she probably wouldn't turn down a chance to work opposite Brad Pitt (who in their right mind would!!) but I think if it was a romantic lead like RZ had in the Bridgette movies that would be a different story.

And yes, Revolver sounds more like a thriller to me than horror. Huge difference in the two. I really liked The Grudge but I love a good thriller more. Loved "The Others", "The Sixth Sense" and "What Lies Beneath". "Revolver" sounds more like that genre to me even though we really haven't heard too much yet.

Anyway, my point was SMG was definitely used as a means to attracting a crowd to The Grudge. If she wasn't important, her name wouldn't have been plastered over the top of the title, all by itself, and she wouldn't have made the talk show circuit all by herself without any of the other stars in the film. Lots of generic horror films get away with not mentioning any of the stars names and just flashes from the movie without any "stars" going around and promoting it. That certainly wasn't the case with "The Grudge".
Well said, Firefly Flanatic.
Just a quick note, FaithFan, I'm not sure what you were trying to imply :) but Britanny, Eliza and Sarah may share the same manager but that person has very little to do with the projects their clients take. My understanding is that a manager's (Joanna in this case) main responsibility is to take care of their client's day-to-day financial dealings (can I afford to buy a new Jaguar, my pool needs some repair etc.). It's the agent that does the wheeling and dealing when it comes to projects. Sarah signed with a new agent last year at William Morris Agency and with her 2 upcoming films, it's beginning to look like this might prove to be a good move on her part.

As for the amount of promotion she did for The Grudge, I think that Sony and other studio execs have taken notice of how dedicated she is and just how much she's willing to do for projects that she believes in. Hopefully, that would help make her more enticing in the eyes of producers. And it can't hurt when Sony Entertainment's vice-chair mentions The Grudge as one the reasons the company topped the domestic market share this year.
on another thought...even tho Grudge was a horror flick....it did give SMG a chance to let us see that she is very capable of quite good reacting acting...there was not a lot of dialogue in that movie...and she managed to make it thru the movie without the Buffy stare!
well almost...it slips in..in just one shot
I'd really like to see her in a period piece
Reading between the lines on her many interviews I got the impression that a major reason for SMG's interest in The Grudge was the opportunity to spend time in Japan, wouldnt be surprised if she shows up in some other film being made in exotic locations, she clearly enjoys the travelling part of the business.

SMG seems to be looking for roles where she can have a major impact, The Grudge must have helped in providing a better argument for that among Hollywood executives, where the numbers are the only things that doesnt lie.

Personally I dont think she belongs in the romantic comedies or period pieces she'd do much better in thriller/horror/caper, playing to her strengths.

This article
http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2004-11-26/screens_filmnews.html

seems to indicate that Kapadia's Revolver is being readied for a February/March Start in Austin while Southland Tales still seems to be struggling with the financial deals required for production, would be a surprise if ST filming starts before summer ( but I've been surprised before).
This article
http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2004-11-26/screens_filmnews.html

seems to indicate that Kapadia's Revolver is being readied for a February/March Start in Austin while Southland Tales still seems to be struggling with the financial deals required for production, would be a surprise if ST filming starts before summer ( but I've been surprised before).


This would tie in with the comment Gellar made when she was in Berlin saying 'Revolver' was her next project, followed by 'Southland Tales'.
Yep dbp, it would.

I hope they do manage to include her in The Grudge 2 to fit in between, with a film ready for next autumn.

In regards to both SMG and Joss I have this strange idea that the more they work the better I feel.

USA Today included a comment on the Grudge as well ( and since Simon begrudged me a posted story :)

USAToday Filmtrends 2004

[ edited by jpr on 2005-01-03 15:51 ]
In regards to both SMG and Joss I have this strange idea that the more they work the better I feel.

jpr, I know what you mean. I occasionally have a look to see if there is any word on the likes of Alyson Hannigan and Nicholas Brendon, but it seems that nothing is happening for them at the moment. I used to think that Hannigan could find a niche for herself in Wes Anderson or Coen Brothers films, something like that. Maybe it's not to be, or maybe she has other plans about what she intends to do in the future.

To get back to the point, SMG has been around for a very long time and perception about her talents or otherwise, and bankability, are already probably pretty much set in stone. I somehow doubt when a studio is looking to cast a high profile, big budget film she is the first name on their lips. However, what she seems to be doing is creating a niche for herself. For all I know, she might constantly bemoan the fact that she isn't offered the roles that routinely go to the likes of Nicole Kidman. Maybe she really wants to be a big movie star and she will eventually end up as just a bitter and twisted, alcoholic has-been (I'm joking!)

As she moves towards her thirties it does appear that she is (as the moment) settling for smaller budget films within a vague genre that will her keep career bubbling away. If that's what the future holds for her it could be a lot worse. I watched 'Harvard Man' again a couple of nights ago. I think it's a tremendous film, and I think she's very good in it. I'd really like to see her do more stuff like this.

...and she managed to make it thru the movie without the Buffy stare!
well almost...it slips in..in just one shot.


I must admit that it has never bothered me, but it always raises a smile when I hear talk of the the 'Buffy stare'!
I am late on this comment but I also saw a big difference in the way The Grudge was promoted VS. Darkness Falls. SMG was all over the place on talk shows, in magazines and her name was always displayed over the movies' title.

I really don't even know who was in Darkness Falls, other than Emma but I only saw her for a split second during the commercial ads on TV and it was so fast I only recognized her because I am such a big Buffy fan, then I also saw posts here at Whedonesque about her being in the movie. The average non-Buffy fan person seeing these adds would not know EC was in Darkness Falls, in contrast The Grudge ads on TV showed Sarah a bit longer and her name appeared above the movie title so I think the average non-Buffy person would know SMG was in The Grudge.

I wish the best for both actresses - both seem smart, ambitious and talented.
Ok, I have no idea what the "Buffy stare" is, can someone give me an example? I feel left out!
The "Buffy stare?" I'm curious, too. I have a suspicion I know what's being referred to but I'd love a confirmation.
dbp, I'm not sure I agree with your conclusions there.

perception about her talents or otherwise, and bankability, are already probably pretty much set in stone

I think The Grudge will help improve on that, another couple of 100+ mil films with her name toplisted should definitely remove the 'former TV star' status. (even if the fans will continue to call her Buffy :)

settling for smaller budget films

Sitting around waiting for the great role to appear is probably not an option, its going to be her work on the smaller films that enables her to work with talented film teams and get picked for the choice roles.

Yes SMG probably would like some of the status of Nicole Kidman but since Nicole K. also does remakes and genre ( remake of a fantasy TV show) maybe the distance isn't that great,
consider me an optimist.

The main issue should probably be why there are so few good original films being made, I think the world have had it with remakes of films and old TV series.

I'm not really sure about that "Buffy stare" either.
SMG did do a romantic comedy - Simply Irresistible, 1999. And if the figures in the box office section can be trusted it wasn't a total flop... it had made back its budget & then some by the second weekend... I would think that would be considered pretty good. Of course it was a really dumb movie but that wasn't SMG's fault.
dbp, I'm not sure I agree with your conclusions there.

I didn't really explain my argument very well in my last message. What I was trying to say is that I don't think SMG is ever going to be a huge movie star. But even if she doesn't actually achieve Julia Roberts-like status it doesn't make her career a failure. I think she can secure a niche for herself, enough to sustain a long-term career, and make some interesting films along the way.

...Of course it was a really dumb movie but that wasn't SMG's fault.

I like 'Simply Irresistible'. I can identify its very apparent faults, but it's an unashamedly warm-hearted film.

Ok, I have no idea what the "Buffy stare" is, can someone give me an example? I feel left out!

I've always taken mention of the 'Buffy stare' to be a misinterpretation of a good piece acting as SMG emphasises the disconnection Buffy feels from the world around her.
Wandering off the path, I have to comment on the Bridget Jones comparisons when talking about romantic comedy. Renee Zellweger played Bridget Jones, the lead. Colin Firth and Hugh Grant played Bridget's boyfriends... they were the secondary parts.

I say, Hallelujah! to Sarah for not wanting to appear as the generic girlfriend or wife in a typical romantic comedy.
I don't see her desire to not play those types of roles as translating into a desire to never do a romantic comedy. It just sounds like she's being selective.

From a personal perspective, I can say I only went to see The Grudge because of SMG. Her appearance at premieres, on talk shows and in magazines reinforces my opinion that she is one of the most motivated and savvy women in show business. My money is on Sarah.
ok dbp, I see what you mean,

and looking I agree.
I liked Simply Irresistable, and I don't like most movies (saw it in a hotel while on business travel).

Didn't Darkness Falls get astoundingly negative reviews? As in, crappiest movie or the year and stuff?
"SMG did do a romantic comedy - Simply Irresistible, 1999....the figures in the box office section can be trusted it wasn't a total flop...Of course it was a really dumb movie"

I think that is why she isn't overly keen on doing a romantic comedy.

I remember her admitting in an interview that as she flew to NY to start filming she knew the film had flaws but as with a lot of things in life they had to go with what they had
gingeriffic - "SMG did do a romantic comedy - Simply Irresistible, 1999. And if the figures in the box office section can be trusted it wasn't a total flop... it had made back its budget & then some by the second weekend...."

Simply Irresistible released in US February 5, 1999
Total US Gross $4,398,989
Production Budget $6,000,000

So flop pretty much covers it for this movie. It might have made it's money back from worldwide release and video/dvd release but in the US box office not so much. Run down of 'The Grudge'....

The Grudge released in US October 22, 2004
Total US Gross $110,175,871
Production Budget $15,000,000
Worldwide Gross $129,903,025

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