The Risks of Profit Participation: “Crash”

‘Crash’ Principals Still Await Payments for Their Work

When a movie costs $7.5 million to make and takes in $180 million around the world, it seems logical to think that the people who created the film would have become very rich.

With “Crash,” this year’s Oscar winner for best picture and last year’s sleeper hit at the box office, that has not been the case.

The movie’s co-writer and director, Paul Haggis, has so far made less than $300,000 on the film, a pittance by Hollywood standards. The eight principal actors in “Crash,” including Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon and Don Cheadle, have been expecting large checks for months, after deferring their usual fees in exchange for a percentage of the film’s profits. Recently, their representatives say, they each received checks for $19,000.

The wheels of Hollywood’s money machine always turn too slowly for profit participants, players who agree to take a slice of a film’s revenues in lieu of large salaries up front.

But the pace of payments on “Crash” has especially disappointed those who deferred and reduced their salaries in 2004 to get the movie made.