A few weeks ago I was talking about the case of Jim Carrey and ‘A crazy man at home’, a title for which he became the first Hollywood actor to charge $ 20 million for a movie. A figure that other interpreters took very little to start earning. One of them was Sylvester Stallone, who in August 1995 signed a contract with Universal with which It seemed like it was going to take over the world.
The agreement with Universal was that the actor would star in three films for the company in exchange for $ 60 million. A movement not without controversy, since one of the first decisions made by Ron Meyer, who had just been named president of the company, previously representing Stallone himself when he worked for Creative Artists Agency.
The actor then celebrated the agreement with the following message: “Ron Meyer has always given me great advice and provided me with great leadership. Ron Meyer and Universal Pictures have 100% of my dedication to do the best job I’ve ever done, and the best is definitely yet to come.“.
On paper, Universal’s move was not far-fetched, since shortly before it had paid 17.5 million to the actor himself for ‘Panic in the tunnel’ and Stallone had just signed an agreement with Savoy Pictures, distributor at the time of titles such as ‘A history of the Bronx’ O ‘The Mommy Murders’, for those 20 million dollars. It was what it cost.
However, the moment of glory was short-lived. On the one hand, Savoy Pictures had to close before his film with Stallone could be finalized – years later it so happened that Universal itself ended up with the rights to its catalog – and the actor also chained two resounding box office flops (‘Judge Dredd’ and ‘Assassins’) that same year. Something better luck had ‘Panic in the tunnel’ the following year, but almost 160 million dollars of collection compared to 80 of cost did not invite to want to make large expenses, especially due to its weak reception in the domestic market.
The harder will be the fall
Then came several years in which Universal was getting dizzy without actually giving the green light to any project headed by Stallone – one of them, ‘Suspect zero’, would take shape several years later with Aaron Eckhart as the protagonist. Although the actor himself summed up that experience as “I sat for two years in a room waiting for them to decide what to do with me“The truth is that he was not inactive either, as he had time to head ‘Cop Land’ and lend his voice to one of the protagonists of ‘Antz (Hormigaz)’.
The wait finally came to an end in 1999, the year in which he filmed ‘D-Tox (Killer Eye)’, a horror thriller that wouldn’t hit theaters until 2002 and out the back door. The reason is that at Universal they were not satisfied with the result and ordered to re-record scenes. They also did not like the result then and left the film forgotten on a shelf.
Already in 2000, they began to talk about a change in the agreement with Universal for which he would finally charge 30 million dollars -20 for ‘D-Tox (Killer eye)’ and 10 for another smaller production that would never materialize -, but finally It was decided to let it expire and that each one follow their separate paths.
Stallone chained several notorious box office flops such as ‘Get Carter (Relentless Killer)’ and ‘Driven’, for which he also pocketed $ 20 million, before ‘D-Tox (Killer Eye)’ finally hit theaters. Of course, in the United States it did not do it with Universal, since it sold its distribution rights to DEJ Productions. The result was a catastrophe, as it did not reach 7 million dollars in world collection compared to a budget of 55 million.
Thus ended the years in which Stallone was one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. It is true that his career resurfaced again shortly after thanks to recovering two more mythical characters in ‘Rocky Balboa’ and ‘John Rambo’, but for a few years virtually no one in Hollywood trusted him.
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When Sylvester Stallone went from being one of the biggest stars to a hollywood bugger over a multi-million dollar deal that went awry