With the real story behind Pierce Brosnan's departure from James Bond finally out, MI6 crunches the numbers behind the pay negotiations...

Pierce Brosnan - A High Price To Pay
15th February 2005

Following yesterday's edition of Variety in which columnist Peter Bart claimed Pierce Brosnan had priced himself out of the role of James Bond with demands that would net him over $40m (USD), reports have spread fast with wildly differing amounts.

When rumours of Brosnan's departure first broke back in early 2004 due to him being "too old", tabloids and Internet sites were quick to back up the hypothesis that the four-times 007 had been "fired" (even though he was not under contract) because he was the wrong side of 50.

Sources close to the production denied these stories, and MGM even leaked a denial through trade paper Variety exactly one year ago announcing Bond 21's provisional release date and that "Brosnan was still their Bond". The real story was still bubbling behind the scenes however, and the talk of pay disputes did not make any headlines. One year on, and following the Variety piece, the press are now openly reporting that Brosnan had asked for too much money - although the numbers quoted vary in accuracy.

High Stakes
MI6 Forums member "Insider" - who first broke the news that Bond 21 would be based on "Casino Royale" back in June 2004 (before any other website) - leaked details of Brosnan's pay demands early last year.

The negotiations reportedly stalled with only a $3m difference between the two parties.

According the figures, Brosnan allegedly asked for $25m to extend his tenure as James Bond for a fifth time, after his original contract of "three films and an optional fourth" expired with "Die Another Day". $25m may seem a lot of money for the lead role, but Brosnan was reportedly paid $16.5m for his last Bond film in 2002 which broke Bond's 40 year box-office records.

According to the source, negotiations broke down in February as both parties could not come to an agreement and Brosnan was not lowering his asking fee.

A month later, and following a slew of "too old for Bond" bad press which caused Brosnan to change publicists, he reportedly lowered his asking price to $20m plus 10% of box-office profits. The source's report in March said that MGM were willing to go to $17m with the 10% deal, but the discrepancy of $3m stalled talks. At that point, Brosnan said "the phone calls stopped" and "paralysis" had set in with producers as he went public on the issue.

Crunching The Numbers
Taking "The World Is Not Enough" (1999) as an example, the film had a box-office gross of $352m. After deducting the costs for distribution of the film, the earnings of the theatre owners, the earnings of the distributors, the cost of the film's production and marketing budget, estimates of the film's profits total around $22m.

For a 10% of box-office profits deal, this would net the actor an addition $2.2m on top of the usual fee. DVD profits would also generate further income, especially if actors unions have their way with movie studios and secure a bigger slice of DVD revenues.

Based on these figures, Variety's claim of $40m seems a little inflated. The reality of the dispute that caused Pierce Brosnan to step down from his famous role is more likely to be closer to the $3m difference of opinion.

Looking Forward
Eon Productions and MGM stated that no casting decisions for the role of James Bond had been made in a press release that confirmed "Casino Royale" as the title for the 21st film earlier this month. A new actor is expected to be signed as the sixth 007 in a three picture deal. Filming is expected to begin around December 2005 / January 2006 for release in November 2006.

Pierce Brosnan's post-Bond career so far includes "After The Sunset" and "The Matador". His schedule is busier than ever with three more productions planned for the coming year.

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