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  • Money and B5:TLT

    do we know what kind of budget JMS got for TLT?
    also knowing that JMS got shafted of money for B5 to begin with do we have any idea what kind of deal he got fo TLT?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Lunan
    do we know what kind of budget JMS got for TLT?
    No, not really. As I recall there was an interview that quoted him saying that the effects budget was over a million dollars but I don't think he's said so in any posts.

    also knowing that JMS got shafted of money for B5 to begin with do we have any idea what kind of deal he got fo TLT?
    Minor correction. JMS got a fairly standard contract considering that B5 was his first created show and it was to be his first Exec. Producer credit. While he may gig the studio about it at times, he knew exactly what he was getting into at the time the contract was signed. 'Shafted' gives the impression that there's dishonesty involved and he's never even hinted at that.

    We haven't heard anything specific about his deal for TLT. There's a possibility that his original B5 contract might have had contingencies in place for spin-offs but no matter what, I think we can assume that JMS was in a better negotiating position for TLT than he'd been before. Having read his posts for a long time, though, I'd be willing to bet that the complete freedom he was given was worth more than profit points to him.

    Jan
    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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    • #3
      do we know what kind of budget JMS got for TLT?
      I think he mentioned 1 million as the FX budget for the first disc, but that's the only number I recall. (And that would include rebuilding from scratch for CGI and other effects.) I don't recall his mentioning an total budget figure. But it will obviously be higher than the 1998-99 B5 TV movies, which were made for around 3 million total, or the Rangers pilot, which I think had a budget of just over 4.

      also knowing that JMS got shafted of money for B5 to begin with do we have any idea what kind of deal he got fo TLT?
      No. I don't recall JMS posting any details of the financial arrangements and can't imagine why he would. (If the contract even permits him to disclose details to third parties.) He's old and wiser and has more clout in the industry than he did before, but let's face it - unless you're Lucas or Speilberg and are both willing and able to finance your own projects and/or build your own studio, there is a limit to how much you can get out of the studios. On his own JMS can type up some lovely stories but when he's done, he's just got a stack of paper. If he wants to put it on celluloid he needs an entity with millions of dollars to spend on technicians and artists, and bookkeepers and insurance and memberships in various organizations, which is signatory to sundry union contracts and which has a legal department to vet names and titles and make sure nobody is being inadvertently libeled or ripped-off.

      (One Trek producer under intense pressure to come up with a script when a contracted writer missed a deadline wracked his brain until a germ of an idea came to him. He wrote all weekend in a white heat, as the full story seemed to grow from nowhere and he turned in the completed script on Monday, just in time to prep it to start shooting Wednesday. On Tuesday the legal department reported that the script was an almost exact copy of an old science fiction short story, down to some of the character names. The writer hadn't stolen it. He had read the story as a kid and forgotten it - conciously. But it bubbled up through his subconcious when he needed a story and he had no idea where the "inspiration" had come from. Luckily the studio was able to track down the original writer and buy the rights to the story in time.)

      And TLT is a spin-off from B5, technically a sequel thereto, and the original B5 deal covered sequels, at least in some respects. Hard to say if he'll end up with any more of a meaningful "ownership" stake in TLT than he did in B5 or if he'll just insist on more money up front.

      OTOH if this leads to a feature film, for which the original deal did give him rights, he could still come out very much better off than your typical TV series creator. That decision could eventually go down in the annals of showbiz alongside Fox's decision to give Lucas the "worthless" sequel and merchandising rights to a little picture called Star Wars. It was the Kenner toy money, not his share of the Fox profits, that allowed Lucas to finance and own the rest of the movies in the series.

      Regards,

      Joe
      Joseph DeMartino
      Sigh Corps
      Pat Tallman Division

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      • #4
        Here's what he said about the budget per minute and the effects budget in Dreamwatch magazine:
        Dreamwatch(DW): How does the approved budget for B5:TLT compare to those you enjoyed on the B5 TV series?
        JMS: On a minute-per-minute basis, it's quite a bit more. The total budget is classified, but for 70 or so minutes of film, on what are in some ways supposed to be very personal and smaller stories, we still have over a million dollars, just in the effects budget.
        I think the 40 minute episodes where around 800k-900k USD? So TLT has a pretty decent budget.

        And I seem to remember that in either an interview or a usenet post, he talked about how the original B5 contract made it so he didn't really make anything on the royalties, and that since then he made sure to never sign a contract that does the percentage over net profit thing (that allows them to cancel out budgets against each other). I can't seem to find it at the moment, but I'm sure he made sure he got paid well enough.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino
          (One Trek producer under intense pressure to come up with a script when a contracted writer missed a deadline wracked his brain until a germ of an idea came to him. He wrote all weekend in a white heat, as the full story seemed to grow from nowhere and he turned in the completed script on Monday, just in time to prep it to start shooting Wednesday. On Tuesday the legal department reported that the script was an almost exact copy of an old science fiction short story, down to some of the character names. The writer hadn't stolen it. He had read the story as a kid and forgotten it - conciously. But it bubbled up through his subconcious when he needed a story and he had no idea where the "inspiration" had come from. Luckily the studio was able to track down the original writer and buy the rights to the story in time.)
          Sounds like you're referring to The Wrath of Khan. It was bascially Moby Dick in Space and Nicholas Meyer wrote the script over a weekend before shooting. There was a quote Khan mentioned about chasing Kirk around this moon, nebula, .etc which was almost word-for-word the same as Ahab saying the same thing about chasing Moby Dick around the Cape of New Hope and a few other places. Both the movie and book were about revenge and the consequences it has.
          Ranger Code

          We walk in the places no others will enter.
          We do not break away from combat.
          We stand on the bridge and no one may pass.
          We do not retreat whatever the reason.
          We live for The One, we die for The One.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Shabaz
            that since then he made sure to never sign a contract that does the percentage over net profit thing (that allows them to cancel out budgets against each other). I can't seem to find it at the moment, but I'm sure he made sure he got paid well enough.
            Yeah, offering a percentage of the net profits is the oldest Hollywood trick in the book. You always want to insist on a percentage of the gross.
            "I am not a number! I am a free man!"

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            • #7
              You may want a percentage of the gross, but you ain't always going to get it.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by JohnFourtyTwo
                Sounds like you're referring to The Wrath of Khan. It was bascially Moby Dick in Space.
                No, I'm talking about a TV episode, trust me. Quite apart from anything else, the copyright on Moby Dick has long since expired. Nobody had to ring up the Melville Estate to arrange permission.

                Besides, while both were about obsession, that's where the resemblance really ended. In terms of plot, action and character Khan was no more specifically Moby Dick in Space than First Contact was - despite the fact that the thematic connections in that film are much more explicit, down to Lily actually calling Picard "Ahab" at one point. And the speeches in both Moby Dick and Khan sound alike because both characters are quoting (or paraphrasing) one of Lucifer's classic speeches from John Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost.

                Regards,

                Joe
                Joseph DeMartino
                Sigh Corps
                Pat Tallman Division

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino
                  No, I'm talking about a TV episode, trust me. Quite apart from anything else, the copyright on Moby Dick has long since expired. Nobody had to ring up the Melville Estate to arrange permission.

                  Besides, while both were about obsession, that's where the resemblance really ended. In terms of plot, action and character Khan was no more specifically Moby Dick in Space than First Contact was - despite the fact that the thematic connections in that film are much more explicit, down to Lily actually calling Picard "Ahab" at one point. And the speeches in both Moby Dick and Khan sound alike because both characters are quoting (or paraphrasing) one of Lucifer's classic speeches from John Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost.

                  Regards,

                  Joe
                  i am quite curious as ti whcih ep your talking abiut a dozen or so come to mind but which ep and which story, i'm now very curious

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                  • #10
                    I'm 99% sure the episode was "Arena" written by Gene L. Coon and inspired (subconciously) by the Fredric Brown short story. David Gerrold related the ancedote in either Tribbles or World, but I think he left out the names and titles out to save Gene C embarassment.

                    Anyway, "Arena" is the only episode I can think of off hand that was based on a published short story. (Of course, now people are going to name 6 others and I'm going to feel like an idiot. )

                    Regards,

                    Joe
                    Joseph DeMartino
                    Sigh Corps
                    Pat Tallman Division

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino View Post
                      No, I'm talking about a TV episode, trust me. Quite apart from anything else, the copyright on Moby Dick has long since expired. Nobody had to ring up the Melville Estate to arrange permission.

                      Besides, while both were about obsession, that's where the resemblance really ended. In terms of plot, action and character Khan was no more specifically Moby Dick in Space than First Contact was - despite the fact that the thematic connections in that film are much more explicit, down to Lily actually calling Picard "Ahab" at one point. And the speeches in both Moby Dick and Khan sound alike because both characters are quoting (or paraphrasing) one of Lucifer's classic speeches from John Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost.

                      Regards,

                      Joe
                      There was also a quote at the end of Space Seed where Kirk refers to Milton and Khan understands his meaning. Scotty asks Kirk what he was talking about and Kirk tells of when Lucifer was cast down into Hell that he was happier to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven. Which pretty much describes what happened when Kirk put Khan and his crew down on Ceti Alpha V to live out their lives instead of taking them back to Earth.
                      Ranger Code

                      We walk in the places no others will enter.
                      We do not break away from combat.
                      We stand on the bridge and no one may pass.
                      We do not retreat whatever the reason.
                      We live for The One, we die for The One.

                      Comment

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