After Hours

Geek Trivia: The quibble of the week for Nov. 4, 2008

This week's quibble comes from the Oct. 28, 2008 edition of Geek Trivia, "The root of all sequels." TechRepublic member Asterisk dinged The Trivia Geek for failing to disclose the inner workings of shady Hollywood accounting practices.

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from our assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

This week's quibble comes from the Oct. 28, 2008 edition of Geek Trivia, "The root of all sequels." TechRepublic member Asterisk dinged me for failing to disclose the inner workings of shady Hollywood accounting practices.

"I am unable to get anything like either the % or the $ return listed. Could the promotional budget been about equal to the production budget? This would give a 354600% return."

As my source site mentions:

"Note: The profit and loss figures are very rough estimates based on the assumption that 50% of box office receipts were returned to the studio. They don't include ancillary (video, TV etc.) earnings, and serve only as a guide."

Which is to say, it is assumed in Hollywood that net is 50% of gross revenue, which is a crude assumption, but generally bears out as true. In the case where actors/directors are paid as a percentage of what the film makes, they tend to insist that it be based on gross, not net, as Hollywood is famous for making films that rake in hundreds of millions of dollars appear as unprofitable, thanks to shady accounting.

You may also occasionally hear of actors/directors suing the production studio — Peter Jackson being a geek-relevant example, as he has sued New Line over The Lord of the Rings profits — because they believe the studio is disguising profits in order to not pay them as royalties or profit shares.

I should have mentioned this in the article. Thanks for the math check, and keep those quibbles coming!

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About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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