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Stephen Smith
Bruce Willis
on Aug 8, 2013 at 3:56:10 pm

Bruce Willis left Expendables 3 because he felt they where not paying him enough. He was going to get $3 million dollars for 4 days worth of work but wanted $4 Million. So they replaced him with Harrison Ford. How would that be to make almost a million a day? Do you think if I shaved my head I would look like an action star?

Also, I'm surprised that there hasn't been a review here yet on Red 2. I know it did bad in the box office. Wondering if it is bad or just got overshadowed by bigger films.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 8, 2013 at 4:30:51 pm

The drama about Bruce behaving badly on the media tour for Red 2 has overshadowed the film. You can see Bruce on the youtube giving some lightweight showbiz reporter the stink-eye.

Pay me just half what Bruce gets, and I'll do media tours for weeks with a smile.

I have to wonder: when an actor gets to the point he or she's made ten million bucks, why do they keep taking bad roles in bad movies, (apart from contractual obligations). I think I would drop out of Hollywood and enjoy the fruits of my labors in seclusion, perhaps popping up occasionally to bankroll a project I believed in.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 8, 2013 at 5:17:54 pm

To bad. I guess that is why Sylvester Stallone twitted that Willis is Greedy and Lazy?

I'm with you. I would hang out and relax and enjoy life and work on projects I'm passionate about.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 8, 2013 at 5:38:50 pm

If Kevin Smith's Q+A session videos are to be believed, Willis is not a nice guy.

NSFW so google on your own!

Too bad - the guy has a fun job and lots of money, but also an ex-wife who also used to be a big star. Money does not = happiness for some people I guess.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 12, 2013 at 3:06:35 pm

I selflessly volunteer to prove you hypothesis. Send all your excess money to me, and I will tell you if I am happy.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 12, 2013 at 3:16:19 pm

I think that is why Mike said "some" people. :-) How would that be to make a million a day?

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Tim Wilson
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 13, 2013 at 5:44:49 am

Stallone is a chump. This will cost him $20 million easy, probably more. Of course, he's likely okay with this, for reasons that have nothing to do with the actual money. Because from a strictly financial standpoint, Stallone is the loser here, big time.

This is yet another launching-pad issue for my rant rockets. There's no such thing as an overpaid athlete, and there's no such thing as an overpaid movie star.

The details of this argument on the broadest scale can wait for another day, but in the context of Bruce Willis, he has been consistently underpaid, and at his own insistence, has often worked for next to nothing...or less.

The thing is, whatever kind of dick Willis is -- and I do consider Kevin Smith a reliable source, and similar stories have been told for years by other people -- broadly characterizing him as greedy is ridiculous.

The whole budget for Looper was $30 million. Moonrise Kingdom was $16m.

Did you hear any talk about Bruce being greedy for those? Any talk about him not being a team player on set? NO, because it didn't happen.

Pulp Fiction, total budget: $8 million.

Even lately:

Cold Light of Day (2012): $20 million
Lay The Favorite (Stephen Frears, 2012): $20 million.
Cop Out (Kevin Smith, 2011): $30 million.
What Just Happened (directed by De Niro, 2010): $20 million.

Were any of these these any good? No. Did they make much money? No. Did BRUCE make much money? No. Not on any of them. Not on all of them.

He makes his money on blockbusters, and takes non-blockbuster money on the non-blockbusters that have actually made up better than half of his career.

The fact is that he'll drop his price without blinking if he cares. He'll sometimes waive it completely, as he did for Breakfast of Champions, working for scale on 12 Monkeys and others.

(For the record, scale for a principal performer in a film with a budget above $2 million is currently $665/day I think, $2200-ish week. I haven't checked since the SAG-AFTRA merger, but there you go.)

I recently heard Terry Gilliam speak very nearly with tears of gratitude in his eyes for Bruce, who he said single-handedly made 12 Monkeys possible. It wasn't just his star stature that made investors willing to spend money on the movie-- but the fact that Bruce worked for scale to keep the budget low. He didn't even look for anything on the back end.

IN FACT, Bruce was working on 12 Monkeys when he got called back for reshoots on Die Hard With A Vengeance... so Bruce made the Die Hard guys PAY TERRY GILLIAM $250,000 for disturbing Gilliam's shoot! Gilliam couldn't have been more pleased, and quite rightly gave Bruce full credit for the money basically falling out of the sky.

(The timing of the reshoots is why Bruce is wearing a hat in the finale of DHWAV, btw - he'd already shaved his head for 12 Monkeys.)

The back end can often be where studios get bit, even if it can pay off for actors. Jack Nicholson worked for the budget price of $6 million on Batman when he was typically getting closer to $20 million, but with his slice of the backend, is believed to have gotten more like $60 million. That's probably about what Hanks got for Gump, but less than the $76 million that Cruise took for Mission Impossible 4.

Gibson and Glover and some other participants wound up taking a full 40% of the gross for Lethal Weapon 4. (Mel alone was $20 million up front plus 20% of the gross.)

Those are obviously a little different than a short walk-on part, and certainly help underscore my point that these actors are NOT overpaid...all of them MORE than earned their dough...

...but the million a day Bruce was asking is about what Brando got for Superman, inflation-adjusted -- back when Brando was a washout, having not been a big box-office draw for years (Godfather 2 brought in only about a third what Godfather did, around $45 million if memory serves), AND bringing absolutely no box-office value to Superman whatsoever.

I'm old enough to have been around and actually care about both Brando and Superman in 1978, and seriously, the two had nothing to do with each other, even after the extensive coverage of Brando's scandalous pay. He was a zero value-add. Any gravitas that he added was undone by Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty and Valerie Perrine as clowns. (No disrespect to them intended - they did exactly what they were supposed to do.)

Here's the difference: of the $274 million that Expendables brought in worldwide, do you think Willis's name on the poster was worth $5 millon? Regardless of what he did in the movie? YES. Of course it was.

If he really wanted to make Expendables 2, he'd have done it. He named his "*uck You" price, and Sly didn't want to pay. Good for him. Draw a line in the sand, live or die by it.

But Stallone knows that he cost himself a lot more than $1 million dollars...which is really all that was ever at stake. One million dollars, not five. The other $4 million was already in Bruce's pocket.

So for $1 million, Sly lost not only the value of Bruce's name overseas, but the value of Bruce's effort on behalf of the movies he's in. He was willing to do it because it was worth it not to have to deal with Bruce, which I can imagine wasn't easy for Sly in the first place...

...but Bruce knew he was worth more than $1 million more than the effort he wanted to put into it, so he drew his line in the sand too. Just as I did for Sly, I say good for Bruce.

This episode has nothing to hurt his reputation among people who pay for him day in and day out because they know, whatever he gets paid, he'll hustle in every market to make sure people go see the movie. Seriously, some time, look up what he did to publicize Looper, which, again, he made for peanuts. If he cares about a movie, he CARES.

And if he doesn't, he'll take the money, thanks. And, as he's proven for decades, more often than not, he'll make it back many times over. Which is why people keep paying him -- not because Bruce is greedy, but because he has proven he's worth it.

Not worth it to you? Only matters if you're paying his salary. Otherwise, your opinion is worth what mine is. Nothing. Except that I'm right. LOL You'd be making a rookie mistake that could cost you many times more than what he'd have charged you....which, if he cared for your movie, might be no more than a pittance.

Other than Stallone, you've never heard about Bruce pricing himself out of a movie, because that's just not something he generally does. Nor does he have to. Because, again, he makes a lot more than he costs, or he wouldn't keep working at these prices. Hollywood's tomfoolery notwithstanding, money is a very quickly self-correcting mechanism.


As a postscript, many folks here have spoken fondly of Moonrise Kingdom. I know it was popular to poo-poo Looper, but I liked it better, and the Tomatometer was almost identical (94% vs. 93%). Everybody needs to see both.

But for the love of love, if you haven't seen 12 Monkeys recently, DO. I consider it desert-island great, even if most humans would call it no more than pretty good (although 88% for critics, 84% for audiences is more than just pretty good). Bruce is amazing in it, as is Brad Pitt, coming off a run of pretty-boy roles (albeit one of them was 7even) and absolutely hurling himself into the part. I really, really like this movie.

A couple of hidden gems in Bruce's filmography:

Death Becomes Her, with Bette Midler and Meryl Streep in a Zemeckis comedy, back in the dawn of digital VFX. A lot of fun, and another great turn from an uncredited Sydney Pollack in actor mode. (See also: Tootsie.) This one is better than you remember...if not by much. LOL But Bruce is choice in it.

My favorite of his smaller roles is another he did for bupkes (the Yiddish word for "beans" btw) was Nobody's Fool, starring Paul Newman (Oscar-nom'd for the role, deservedly). It also had Jessica Tandy and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and was directed (and adapted) by Robert Benton (Places In The Heart -- why isn't THAT movie better remembered??? -- and Kramer vs. Kramer, among many other greats). Bruce's role is mostly to serve as the movie equivalent of a batting practice pitcher for Paul Newman to keep hitting into the stands, a genuinely supporting role....and really, really nicely done. I love him in this, and I think it's one of Newman's best too.

I've written, what, like 5000 words here without even mentioning Sixth Sense, but it's another he did at a deep discount....although it's a long story that starts with him being a dick on another movie, the details of which can wait for another day...but I'm obviously a big fan of his, as an actor, as a movie star, and as investment, none of which are necessarily tied to the other. He's one of a small handful of guys that I think scores high for all three.

Of course, I don't have to work with the guy. LOL But I'd be happy to give it a try, and I bet a lot of people would be happy to do it again. And I bet that almost all of us would make our money back, and then some.


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Tom Sefton
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 13, 2013 at 11:55:19 pm

Top post Tim.

I love 12 monkeys. Stallone has undervalued a film star that is probably a higher box office draw than he is. Bruce played hardball because he didn't really want to do the film and can afford a couple of negative stories and tweets claiming he is greedy rather than being in another action stink fest that offers nothing to anyone over 15 years old.


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Kylee Peña
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 12:19:01 am

I have nothing to add cuz that was a great post. Just wanted to say Nobody's Fool IS a great film and I'm surprised more people don't mention it in discussions of Bruce Willis.

Also, I read Bruce did his first Friends episode for free because of a bet. I never fact-checked that because everything on the Internet is true.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 1:27:45 am

"12 Monkeys Bruce" was some 18 years ago now.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 5:23:49 am

Glad you kids liked the post. :-)

The Bruce/Friends story is a little murky, but it generally goes: Bruce had already been booked for Friends, but while working with Matthew Perry on The Whole Nine Yards, Matthew said that if it opened at #1, Bruce would have to do the Friends gig for free. It did, so Bruce donated his fee to charity.

I've read some reports where he donated the fee for his whole run, but truth on the internet can tend to be self-validating...

I'd actually forgotten about that stint on Friends. A sly, self-deprecating turn that won him an Emmy.

For mentioning some lesser-known parts, the fact is that he completely nailed Die Hard. I told the lengthy tale of the controversy around his salary in a Die Hard thread. There's no way he was in a position to demand it -- a hit TV series underway, yes, but his only big screen appearances were in two flops, Sunset and Blind Date. But producers saw what was entailed in the role, saw what Bruce actually delivered, and ponied up quite gladly.

It's also impossible to overstate how good he was in Moonlighting -- which he could easily have wriggled out of after the success of Die Hard, which he made in the second season break. In fact, at one point in the last season, his character walks past a video store where a guy is tearing down a Die Hard poster from the window.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 1:43:02 pm

I am about 50% through 12 Monkeys, having not seen it since the theater, so basically not at all. Classic Terry Gillian - hints of Brazil, Fisher King and a clever time travel story. Bruce is essentially playing an 8 year old boy in a man's body.

Mike Cohen


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Jeff Breuer
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 5:28:30 pm

Great perspective as always Tim. When the news broke I thought less about Willis being a dick and more of the terrible move Stallone made by airing out his grievance online. Willis still has a lot of fans, and at that - fans who are fans of HIS franchise. By calling out Willis on Twitter he is not only loosing the Willis appeal in the next movie, he is turning away Willis fans.

One big draw for The Expendables is that you can see an ensemble of actors who have opened plenty of movies on their own, all in one big movie. Stallone, as usual, is the driving force behind the movies, like many of his, and asking these other stars to come join in the fun. But how many times has Stallone played second or tenth fiddle in someone else's show just for fun or a good part?

I like Willis and Stallone movies regardless of what I hear. I have Commando in my Netflix queue right now, not because it's an Oscar contender, but it's a fun movie. I'm sure I'll watch Expendables 3 too, but calling out Willis just seemed like a bad move.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 7:01:43 pm

Stallone is not a dummy, except maybe in his personal life... but that script for "Rocky" was solid, that was HIM, and the execution of that film, flawless, so I give him a lot of credit for that.

Bruce gets a pass from me for "Moonlighting", but I don't have the man crush Tim has for Willis, post "Die Hard" and "Fifth Element". I find he's best in those smaller roles like Moonrise Kingdom, and kind of "over" in the big budget boom-boom-flicks.


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Tom Sefton
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 9:47:08 pm

I like Bruce because he is bald. Lets hear it for follicly challenged men!


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Scott Roberts
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 15, 2013 at 10:27:37 pm

Bruce has since stated since the start of this incident (a week ago?), that's he's bored with action movies, but still likes doing them to collect a paycheck.

“Explosions are one of the most boring parts of my job,” he’s quoted as saying. “When you have seen a few fireballs, its not exciting anymore. I know part of my audience enjoys the explosions, but to be honest, I’m a bit bored of it now. ”

“I am very clear with who I am,” he said. “I work in all sorts of films, but the action movies are the ones that generate the most revenue. I like to earn lots of money from those, but I do all types: small productions, mega-projects, medium sized, even science fiction.”

http://www.slashfilm.com/bruce-willis-bored-of-action-movies-but-still-does...


In related news: the old guy Harrison Ford, who replaced the old guy Bruce Willis in Expendables 3, is still acting like a typical old guy (EVEN THOUGH I AGREE WITH HIM HERE):

“People used to go to movie theaters. It was a community experience, and that was part of the fun. Now people see a movie on their iPad, alone, with interruptions for snacks.”

More quotes from Ford about Comic-con and such below:

Read more: http://www.uproxx.com/gammasquad/2013/08/cranky-harrison-ford-declares-toda...


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Tom Sefton
Re: Bruce Willis
on Aug 17, 2013 at 6:58:41 pm

(grandpa simpson) My story begins in nineteen-dickety-two. We had to say dickety because the Kaiser had stolen our word twenty. I chased that rascal to get it back, but gave up after dickety-six miles. What are you cackling at, fatty? Too much pie, that's your problem! Now, I'd like to digress from my prepared remarks to discuss how I invented the terlet...


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