Hollywood riddle: Which upcoming Christmas movie was the most expensive to make but the cheapest to produce?
Answer: The one starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore.
Before cameras even rolled on "A Few Good Men," the $41-million military courtroom drama due out from Columbia Pictures on Dec. 11, independent producer Castle Rock Entertainment shelled out a reported $12.5 million to Cruise, $5 million to Nicholson ($500,000 a day for 10 days' work) and slightly less than $2 million to Moore (her fee was negotiable, sources said, because she fought for the role against Jodie Foster and Linda Hamilton). Add to that another $1 million to Kiefer Sutherland, $750,000 to Kevin Bacon and $4 million to director Rob Reiner, a partner in Castle Rock.
The fees paid to "talent"--Reiner and the actors--were more than half what the producer spent to make the movie, before even one frame of film was shot. Once the paychecks were cut, the rest of the production was a steal.
That's because "A Few Good Men," based upon the successful Broadway drama by Aaron Sorkin and adapted by him for the screen, was shot almost entirely on a sound stage at Culver Studios in Culver City, with the exception of two weeks of location shooting exteriors in Washington.