Fox Says ‘Big Deal’ to New Hollywood Frugality : Movies: Writer-director John Hughes reportedly will get more than $200 millionfrom Fox. Included is a sequel to the box-office hit.


If the age of the Hollywood mega-deal is really over, 20th Century Fox Film Corp. apparently hasn’t heard the news.

The News Corp. movie unit is preparing to commit more than $200 million to a seven-film agreement with writer-director John Hughes, who produced “Home Alone” for the studio, according to sources familiar with the deal.

Under the agreement, details of which were still being negotiated Wednesday, Hughes will produce, write and in some cases direct six Fox films with budgets of roughly $20 million to $25 million over the next several years, for a total of at least $120 million in production costs. The studio will also supply print and advertising funds, which typically run at least $10 million per film.


In addition, Hughes will produce a sequel to “Home Alone,” which is expected to cost more than the other six films but will be “as cheap as we could get it,” according to one Fox executive.

“Home Alone,” which was directed by Chris Columbus, has taken in more than $221 million at the box office and is still going strong.

Although the low-cost original reaped a bonanza for Fox, the sequel could be less lucrative, because the producer and other participants probably will take big fees, a hefty percentage of gross receipts or both.

The tentative multi-picture deal follows a bidding war in which Fox and Sony Corp.'s Columbia Pictures Entertainment unit made offers for Hughes’ services during the past two weeks--rising industry rhetoric about cost containment notwithstanding.

Although six of the Fox films are budgeted at or below industry averages, the deal is said to contain rich fees for Hughes, who produced, wrote or directed such film comedies as “Uncle Buck,” “The Great Outdoors” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” for other studios.

Fox film chief Joe Roth and Creative Artists Agency, which represents Hughes, declined to discuss the deal.

But one Columbia source said that studio was prepared to pay Hughes $18.5 million in fees for five pictures other than “Home Alone” before it dropped out of the bidding. Under the Columbia offer, according to the source, Hughes would have been able to deliver all five films to the studio with little creative input from Columbia.

That arrangement appears similar to a much publicized production deal that Paramount Pictures struck, and then abandoned, last year with producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. Hughes, like Simpson and Bruckheimer, is represented by attorney Jake Bloom of Bloom, Dekom & Hergott.

Under the Fox deal, according to one person familiar with its terms, the studio will retain considerable creative control over the films. “Sure, it’s expensive,” the person added, referring to the deal with Hughes. “(They’ve) got his services for his next seven films, and his services are expensive.”