How Much Money Can You Make by Writing a Movie?


Millions! That’s the short answer to the question of how much money you can make writing a movie. For example, the writers of the Denzel Washington movie “Déjà Vu” sold their script for $5 million in 2004. According to a 2013 article in Vanity Fair, that was the record for a “spec” script -- one that was written before it was sold. In the 1990s, many spec scripts were sold for mid- to high-six figures. Though writers can still strike gold in Hollywood, you're actually doing well if you sell your script at all.

Writers Guild Contracts

  • The Writers Guild of America works out complicated contracts for every conceivable type of script, in every stage of completion, for all media. This includes “options,” or what someone pays you for the exclusive right to sell your script to a buyer; and “residuals,” or what you make when your movie runs on TV and all other mediums. The contract also guarantees the writer a minimum amount for your work.

Writers Guild Payments

  • As of publication, the WGA minimum for a screenplay, treatment and two rewrites was $67,804. The minimum for an option for 18 months is 10 percent of that figure. Residuals for feature films are based on the amount of money it makes. The writer makes 1.2 percent of the distributor’s gross receipts, and then a little higher percentage for DVD sales and Internet distribution.

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