The director and lead actors got "gross points," an increasingly rare practice in Hollywood that gives them a cut of revenue as soon as the studio receives it. On the original, Phillips gave up his upfront payment for a slice of the money left after Warner and Legendary recouped their costs. The film was so profitable that he ended up making as much as $60 million, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because of the privacy of such financial matters.
If "The Hangover Part II" performs better than the original, the movie's backers will be eager for what typically follows success in Hollywood: more of the same, possibly as soon as 2013.
Helms said in a recent interview that he couldn't imagine another sequel, but Warner's top movie executive, Jeff Robinov, feels differently.
"Our hope is to get to a third 'Hangover,'" he said. "Whether we can get to a fourth depends on Todd [Phillips'] imagination."
Times staff writer John Horn contributed to this report.