First-dollar gross is a practice in filmmaking in which a participant receives a percentage of the gross box-office revenue, starting from a film's first day of release.[1][2] The participant begins sharing in the revenue from the first ticket sale, not waiting until the film studio turns a profit.[3] It is a film finance and distribution term used primarily in the United States film industry.[4] In France, as of September 2003, one condition for filmmakers to get government support is that money must be reimbursed on the first-dollar gross basis.[5] First-dollar gross has become a rare arrangement,[6][7] and compensation has increasingly shifted away from first-dollar gross to back-end compensation.[8] Some contracts define "first dollar" as a net figure after certain expense deductions rather than a true distributor's gross.[9]


For Inception, DiCaprio chose to forgo his normal rate in favor of first-dollar gross.[10]

If a film does well, a first-dollar gross arrangement can be very lucrative for the participant.[11] Natalie Wood took 10 percent of the first-dollar gross on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, which according to Freddie Fields earned her more money than she did on any other movie.[12] Cameron Diaz negotiated first-dollar gross on Bad Teacher, and netted $42 million.[13] Sandra Bullock made more from her 15 percent first-dollar gross deal on Gravity than from her upfront pay of $20 million.[14] In his heyday, Arnold Schwarzenegger received 25 percent first-dollar gross.[15]

When Warner Bros. thought Inception was a risky investment, Leonardo DiCaprio agreed to cut his then-normal $20 million salary to a minimal salary with a first-dollar gross to make the film, which eventually paid him $50 million.[10] Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg shared a 40 percent first-dollar gross on Saving Private Ryan.[16] Some other filmmakers known to have made first-dollar gross deals are Tyler Perry,[17] Eli Roth,[18] Clint Eastwood,[8] Quentin Tarantino,[19] Christopher Nolan,[20] actor Tom Cruise,[21] and film producer Jason Blum.[22] Many actors had earned $100 million later, after an initial payment.[23] For example, Tom Cruise was paid between $12–14 million for his performance in Top Gun: Maverick, which was revised to over $100 million after his share of the film's box office gross.[24]

See also


  1. ^ Kelly, Kate; Marr, Merissa (13 January 2006). "Sweetheart Star Deals Go Sour". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  2. ^ Weinstein, Mark I. (13 August 1998). "Guide to Deal Structures" (PDF). University of Southern California. p. 4. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  3. ^ Cieply, Michael (3 March 2010). "For Movie Stars, the Big Money Is Now Deferred". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  4. ^ "first dollar / first dollar gross - Lexikon der Filmbegriffe". University of Kiel (in German). 2 August 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  5. ^ "House of Commons - Culture, Media and Sport - Sixth Report". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 18 September 2003. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  6. ^ Cones, John W. (1997). The Feature Film Distribution Deal: A Critical Analysis of the Single Most Important Film Industry Agreement. Southern Illinois University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-8093-2081-3.
  7. ^ Goldstein, Patrick; Rainey, James (3 August 2009). "Hollywood gets tough on talent: $20-million movie salaries go down the tubes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  8. ^ a b Vogel, Harold L. (2011). Entertainment Industry Economics: A Guide for Financial Analysis. Cambridge University Press. p. 228. ISBN 978-1-107-00309-5.
  9. ^ Kroon, Richard W. (2010). A/V A to Z: An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Media, Entertainment and Other Audiovisual Terms. McFarland & Company. p. 280. ISBN 978-0-7864-4405-2.
  10. ^ a b Bacardi, Francesca (22 January 2014). "Jonah Hill Was Paid $60,000 for 'Wolf of Wall Street'". Variety. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  11. ^ Cieply, Michael (11 November 2007). "Hollywood strike underlines bleak outlook for movie business". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  12. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (15 December 2007). "Freddie Fields, 84, talent agent to stars". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  13. ^ Fisher, Luchina (18 October 2013). "Role Reversal: Actresses Over 40 Top Hollywood". ABC News. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Hollywood's biggest paydays". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  15. ^ Finke, Nikki (29 April 2011). "Arnold's Payday: $10 Million Plus 25% First Dollar Gross For Schwarzenegger's Next Film". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  16. ^ Bart, Peter (17 January 1999). "Movie Math: A Study in Profit and Gloss". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  17. ^ Fernandez, Jay A. (11 September 2008). "Film mogul Tyler Perry takes his biggest risk". Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  18. ^ Ago, Alessandro (2009). "SCA Alumni Screening Series: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS". USC School of Cinematic Arts. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  19. ^ Kit, Borys (18 November 2017). "How Sony Nabbed Quentin Tarantino's Manson Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  20. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (16 May 2020). "Is 'Tenet' Still Sticking On Its July 17 Release Date?". Deadline. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  21. ^ Fleming, Michael (13 June 2008). "Hollywood all grossed out". Variety. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  22. ^ Masters, Kim (27 February 2014). "Jason Blum's Crowded Movie Morgue: Downside of a Microbudget Empire". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  23. ^ "Actors Who Made over $100 Million from One Movie". 7 May 2023.
  24. ^ "Tom Cruise will reportedly get at least $100 million for 'Top Gun: Maverick' — one of the biggest paydays for an actor ever".