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David Poland

By David Poland

Randy Quaid: Futurist Or Fuck Up?

So word hit the street, via a website that Variety, of course, does not credit, that Randy Quaid is suing Focus Features for “tricking him” into taking what is likely scale to do Brokeback Mountain by representing the film as a low-budget indie.
Though the media sucker… uh, reporters reported on the “indies at the Oscars” over and over and over and over and over and over, anyone thinking straight always realized that $15 million – $20 million movies are not indies, no matter what division of a massive conglomerate is releasing them. Now that The Weisnteins are in bed with MPAA signatory MGM, Lionsgate is the only true indie still in this sbudget range. Fox’s The Family Stone cost less than Brokeback… is it more, less or equally indie?
So with the line utterly blurred and the studios long using the “indie arms,” their Dependents, as a negotiating tactic to get names to work for less than their normal price, is Randy Quaid striking a blow for actors’ rights or is he just a guy past his money making prime trying to cash in and shooting himself in the foot while hoping to get a multi-million payday just to go away?
(Maybe someone needs to send him a BBM postcard. And maybe agents or SAG will soon be negotiating a price for this form of now-standard talent exploitation.)

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15 Responses to “Randy Quaid: Futurist Or Fuck Up?”

  1. Crow T Robot says:

    Reminds of when Wesley Snipes sued New Line because David Goyer’s “Blade Trinity” DIDN’T hit.

  2. Lynn says:

    Fuckup. Damaged to the tune of $10 million? Yeah, right. I’m sure that’s what he typically makes on projects like those “Day of Destruction” TV movies. Yeah, right.
    While there might be some logic to the argument of “They lied to me, so I took less money upfront” it makes no sense whatsoever why he didn’t negotiate a deal for a bonus of some kind if the movie reached a certain level of financial success. Those deals are common, and if, theoretically, the producers wouldn’t agree to that, then gee, wouldn’t he have been tipped off to the fact that they *did* expect to reach that threshold?
    So either make a deal where you’re protected, or shut up. Don’t go whining later because a movie you had 10 lines in turns out to be far more successful than anyone reasonably envisioned at the time it was produced.

  3. palmtree says:

    From what I understand, Randy is a real upstanding guy. If that’s true, then it makes me think that perhaps he feels he was genuinely lied to.
    But part of me thinks that he is hard up for some cash and the prestige from being in an Oscar winning film just isn’t enough.

  4. James Leer says:

    “Family Stone” cost $17 million to Brokeback’s $14 million. Now, those are the public budgets, and it’s entirely possible they cost more — this lawsuit should determine it. But I don’t think Family Stone was less expensive than Brokeback.

  5. palmtree says:

    Isn’t it false to link independent filmmaking and low budgets? Lucas is also independent, yet his films are hardly low budget. I know that is an extreme example, but I don’t think budget determines whether something is indie or not. Rather how is it financed.

  6. jeffmcm says:

    Am I right in thinking that this was probably a tactical move on Quaid’s part to shake down the producers for a settlement that would be less than $10m but still substantial?

  7. Lynn says:


  8. montrealkid says:

    I think the assertion in the lawsuit that Randy Quaid was integral to the film’s success is laughable. As is the claim he spent months “preparing” for the role.
    It’s hard to imagine why he would bother going through all this unless it’s just sour grapes at not holding out for usual seven figure salary and back end deal he usually gets (which I have trouble believing).
    I wonder what he got paid for the Ice Harvest considering the budget for that movie was only $16 million….and I wonder if he would’ve pulled the same stunt had that movie been a suprise success.

  9. James Leer says:

    Anna Faris is calling her lawyer right now.

  10. eoguy says:

    Variety labels any “indie” film as a movie that is independently financed, so basically anything indie is something run through a production company that is separate from the studio. Granted, that means that a major studio only released about 8 or 9 “studio” movies each year, but that’s the reality of the business, I suppose. Nonetheless, I agree it is a little misleading, and the definition of indie, which has been debated endlessly, to some, means a movie with a tiny budget financed by a guy and his credit card. But that definition is a little shaky because it’s the kind of thing that could easily be created as a good story, rather than documented in records.

  11. David Poland says:

    JL – What is a “public budget?”
    You mean what’s been published in the press?
    You can’t be reading me this often and still be that naive, can you? I know I don’t rant on about the endless numerical lies in this business as much as I used to, but… oy.
    As for the rest… of course he was spun. But that is now standard operating procedure. That is one of the main reasons why there are “indie” divisions… to exploit the willingness of talent to work for less in the name of art.
    And of course Quaid was not an irreplaceble part of the BBM success. But do you see this as different than Wal-Mart endlessly claiming the lowest price but then delivering higher prices on most staple items (according to a study done last year)?

  12. jeffmcm says:

    James Leer clearly said that he understands those budget figures might not be correct.

  13. James Leer says:

    Well, DP, I am referring to the $14 million budget that has been repeatedly cited by the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, etc. Perhaps the actual budget is higher. But then, what makes you think that the $17 million budget of “The Family Stone” isn’t actually higher as well? Suddenly, in that case, the studio is a paragon of honesty?
    Every public record indicates that “Brokeback” cost around $3 million less to make than “Family Stone.” If you can source something that indicates differently, I’d be happy to read it.

  14. hepwa says:

    Randy Quaid should do two things:
    1) Sue his agent for allowing them to make a deal he felt was dishonest of misleading (does anyone really think he sits in on final negotiations?).
    2) Find a really good P.R. person who can repair his image. Who the hell is going to hire him after this! His part in BBM was the best work he’s done in years — he should’ve paid them to be in it, ’cause (let’s face it), the most people nowadays remember him for is being the rummy who flies his fighter jet into a spaceship.

  15. Joe Straat says:

    If you make something like “Christmas Vacations 2” and someone is STILL asking you to be in movies, you have NO right to bitch about money.

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