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View Full Version : Backend points... standard?


slupo
02-24-2014, 03:18 PM
Is it standard to get a percentage of profits on a regular option/purchase agreement for a first time writer?

If it is, would be a dealbreaker if you weren't getting any?

JoeBanks
02-24-2014, 03:24 PM
not sure what they mean by "backend points" but if it's anything other than first-dollar gross, then they are monkey points. there is never any backend.

(i don't believe first-dollar points are typical for most writers)

slupo
02-24-2014, 03:33 PM
not sure what they mean by "backend points" but if it's anything other than first-dollar gross, then they are monkey points. there is never any backend.

(i don't believe first-dollar points are typical for most writers)

I meant a percentage of the profits. I thought that was what backend points were but I could be wrong!

You mean profit percentages are worthless because they manipulate the numbers so a movie doesn't usually make a profit?

JoeBanks
02-24-2014, 03:43 PM
again, it all depends on how they're defining the term "profit"

http://gawker.com/5196154/how-movie-stars-get-paid

sppeterson
02-24-2014, 04:50 PM
This page did a fairly nice job of discussing different types of back-end deals:

http://www.creativeskillset.org/film/knowledge/article_5080_1.asp

I've typically seen about 3-5% of producer's net profits in standard writing contracts for me.

Those supposedly never pay off, but my attorney said that for indie films they sometimes have a chance of actually paying out -- which I assume is because it's harder to play a shell game with the profits off a straight-up indie film sale.

DavidK
02-24-2014, 04:54 PM
If you're being offered a percentage of profits it's most likely a means to get get you to agree to a lower up-front payment with the expectation there will be greater rewards when the film makes a profit. The definition of 'profit' will almost certainly guarantee that you don't see an extra penny. This type of deal is often offered to first time writers in the hope they will not know any better and fall for it. It's safer to take the maximum up-front payment you can get and forfeit anything resembling back-end percentages other than a box office bonus, which they are not going to offer you anyway. The only money you are likely to see is the money you are paid up front. The devil will be in the detail - you need an entertainment attorney to scrutinize the contract and advise whether or not you are likely to see any of the enticing profits of which they speak.

ATB
02-24-2014, 09:11 PM
There are net points and there are gross points.

You're not getting gross points and net points are useless.

Forget about back-end. Focus on front-end.

Craig Mazin
02-24-2014, 09:37 PM
not sure what they mean by "backend points" but if it's anything other than first-dollar gross, then they are monkey points.

Not at all true. Lots of good backend definitions that aren't first dollar. Cash break, for instance.

But the writer isn't getting any of that. ATB is correct. We are paid as follows:

1. Up front money
2. Credit bonus, should we get credit
3. Box office bonuses occasionally
4. Residuals

I've never received a penny of back end money in 18 years of professional screenwriting, nor do I expect to. It's boilerplate to receive 5% of "defined net profits." To put it in perspective, Identity Thief (which cost 35 and made 135 in U.S. box office alone, not to mention international, video or pay television) is about $80 million in the hole per the net profit definition.

It's baloney accounting. Don't worry about back end unless you're dealing with a very small budget and receiving little or no up front money.

JoeBanks
02-25-2014, 12:26 PM
thanks!

LauriD
02-26-2014, 12:23 AM
Not at all true. Lots of good backend definitions that aren't first dollar. Cash break, for instance.

But the writer isn't getting any of that. ATB is correct. We are paid as follows:

1. Up front money
2. Credit bonus, should we get credit
3. Box office bonuses occasionally
4. Residuals

.

Are residuals also paid on rewrite gigs? If so, how are they shared between the various writers?

LauriD
02-26-2014, 07:49 AM
But the writer isn't getting any of that. ATB is correct. We are paid as follows:


3. Box office bonuses occasionally

Iy.

I started a new thread on the issue of box office bonuses at http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?p=897208#post897208.

How common are these and what rates are typical?

Ronaldinho
02-26-2014, 09:47 AM
Are residuals also paid on rewrite gigs? If so, how are they shared between the various writers?

You only get residuals if you qualify for credit.

I think it's 75% for "screenplay by" and 25% for "story by" or something close to that, split between all writers who qualify for that part of the credit. ("Story by," however, means you get certain other separated rights).

Aros
02-27-2014, 09:11 PM
If you're being offered a percentage of profits it's most likely a means to get get you to agree to a lower up-front payment with the expectation there will be greater rewards when the film makes a profit. The definition of 'profit' will almost certainly guarantee that you don't see an extra penny. This type of deal is often offered to first time writers in the hope they will not know any better and fall for it. It's safer to take the maximum up-front payment you can get and forfeit anything resembling back-end percentages other than a box office bonus, which they are not going to offer you anyway. The only money you are likely to see is the money you are paid up front. The devil will be in the detail - you need an entertainment attorney to scrutinize the contract and advise whether or not you are likely to see any of the enticing profits of which they speak.


This shouldn't ever happen if you've even got a semi-decent agent, manager, or lawyer.:confused:

DavidK
02-28-2014, 03:26 AM
This shouldn't ever happen if you've even got a semi-decent agent, manager, or lawyer.

Exactly.

goldmund
02-28-2014, 05:04 AM
Not at all true. Lots of good backend definitions that aren't first dollar. Cash break, for instance.

But the writer isn't getting any of that. ATB is correct. We are paid as follows:

1. Up front money
2. Credit bonus, should we get credit
3. Box office bonuses occasionally
4. Residuals



How about the DVD bonus? I failed to propose it instead when they struck my request for gross points and feel suckerishly :-(

LauriD
02-28-2014, 07:00 AM
How about the DVD bonus? I failed to propose it instead when they struck my request for gross points and feel suckerishly :-(

How does a DVD bonus clause work?

Aros
02-28-2014, 07:06 AM
Guys, films don't stay in theaters forever:p

So clealy DVD earnings would fall under "Residuals" which Craig listed.;)

goldmund
02-28-2014, 04:42 PM
No, apart from residuals. 5k I've heard when they go and make DVDs.

Craig Mazin
02-28-2014, 11:19 PM
You only get residuals if you qualify for credit.

I think it's 75% for "screenplay by" and 25% for "story by" or something close to that, split between all writers who qualify for that part of the credit. ("Story by," however, means you get certain other separated rights).

Story by and screen story by typically confer separated rights.

And yes, the residuals pie is 75% for screenplay and 25% for story. In an instance where there is no story credit (say, a faithful adaptation), then 100% of residuals are attached to screenplay credit.

Craig Mazin
02-28-2014, 11:21 PM
Yes, there's a strange one time 5K "script publication fee" residual when the movie goes to DVD. It's a WGA term that was kind of a workaround to receive a tiny bump in residuals without altering the actual formula.

Ulysses
03-03-2014, 12:16 AM
Net points are also called "Monkey Points".

For a reason.

Even though monkeys don't need a net to perform in jungle :)