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WRITER'S EDGE: How Much Money Should You Expect When You Sell a Screenplay?

Steve Kaire breaks down how much money you can realistically expect to make when you sell a screenplay and the payout structure.

Steve Kaire is a Screenwriter/Pitchman who’s sold eight projects to the major studios without representation. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveKaire.

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WRITER'S EDGE: How Much Money Should You Expect When You Sell a Screenplay? by Steve Kaire | Script Magazine #scriptchat #screenwriting

If you’re not a member of the Writer’s Guild, then you’re not subject to receive Guild minimums for the sale of your material. You’re at the mercy of whatever the buyers want to pay.

These are the general parameters of how much money you should expect depending on the kind of material you’re selling. Remember these are estimates and represent the minimums that you should receive.

Steve Kaire sell a screenplay

If you sell an idea or a storyline, you can expect to get $5,000 on the front-end and about $20,000 on the back-end if the movie gets produced.

If you sell a treatment, you should expect around $15,000 on the front end and $30,000 on the back-end.

Finally, if you manage to sell a screenplay, you should receive at least $40,000 upfront and $75,000 on the back-end.

The front-end means the money you will get at the point of sale as soon as the deal closes. The back-end means the money that will be paid to you if and only if the project gets produced. Produced means when principal photography commences and the movie gets shot. The film does not have to be released for the writer to get paid. Once they shoot it, the screenwriter gets paid the back-end.

This is an example of how the front and back-end work. Let’s say you sell a screenplay and the deal is $40,000 against $75,000. You would receive $40,000 up front at the time of the sale, and receive another $35,000 if the movie goes into production. That’s a total of $75,000.

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