The "Simpsons" voice actors have commissioned a study estimating the show has made $1 billion in profits as ammunition in their negotiations with 20th Century Fox TV over its demand that they agree to have their salaries cut nearly in half. The study projected that the studio will eventually make about $2.8 billion from the show through 23 seasons.
The six actors have been asked to decide by noon Friday whether they will accept a demand from Fox that they cut their payment per episode from $440,000 to $250,000 per episode, according to people familiar with the talks. The actors offered last week to accept cuts to $300,000 per episode, in exchange for back-end payments they don't currently receive, but the studio rejected the offer.
The studio declined to comment Wednesday. Earlier this week, it issued a statement saying it "cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model," and that it hoped for "an agreement with the voice cast that allows 'The Simpsons' to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come."
If no deal is reached, the current, twenty-third season will be the show's last. But both sides seem hopeful for a deal. People familiar with the talks characterized them as bloodless, so far.
"It's not emotional on either side," one person told TheWrap. "After 23 years both sides sides understand each other and want to reach a deal."
The report commissioned by the actors estimated that the show has earned $3.95 billion in revenue in its first cycle — including from network advertising, syndication payments, international, merchandising, and home video — and has cost about $3.07 billion to produce.
The study estimated that the show would earn about another $2 billion in its second and third cycles once it stops producing new episodes. A person familiar with the talks provided details of the study to TheWrap.
Under their current four-year contract, which ends this season, the actors earn around $9 million for a minimum of 20 episodes. They are being asked to cut their salaries to $5 million.
The actors being asked to take cuts are Dan Castellaneta (Homer, Grampa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe, Chief Wiggum and Apu), and Harry Shearer (the voice of Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, and Ned Flanders, among others).
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