It's common knowledge that the Disney studio strikes the toughest deals.
With Disney riding high with "Good Morning, Vietnam" ($51 million box-office to date) and "Three Men and a Baby" (edging past $125 million), who gets all the money? Michael Eisner? Does Mickey have a secret numbered bank account in Switzerland?
(For example, Aljean Harmetz of the New York Times quoted co-director Jerry Zucker as saying that "we'll get no net profits" on his "Ruthless People," a major hit starring Bette Midler and Danny DeVito.)
But the studio may be starting to soften up, based on a story that "Good Morning" producer Larry Brezner told Outtakes.
When the picture opened in wide release, Brezner got a call from star Robin Williams asking about opening weekend ticket grosses. When Williams, who got "less than $2 million" as front-end pay, was told the good figures, he responded: "So, we could make money on the back end?" (Meaning, sharing in final profits.)
Brezner remained cautious . . . and Williams went on to do a "Good Morning, America" guest shot, where he joked about never seeing his cut.
Jeff Katzenberg, Disney's production chief, happened to be watching the show.
The next day Williams received a letter from Katzenberg: "Here's the beginning of the back end."
Enclosed was a check for $1 million.
Is Disney the studio with a heart?