How Two Amazing Bets Made Steven Spielberg A Multi-Billionaire
Steven Spielberg is a phenomenal filmmaker. He is one of the best not only of our time, but of all time. I could even see someone in 50 years in the future still calling Spielberg one of the best directors, storytellers, producers and filmmakers of all time. And as much money as the directors earn, let’s face it, it is not enough to become a billionaire. Spielberg has a net worth of $ 3.7 billion.
By comparison, other directors likely of his stature include Quentin Tarantino ($ 120 million), Martin Scorsese ($ 100 million), Stanley Kubrick ($ 20 million), David Fincher ($ 65 million) , Christopher Nolan ($ 200 million), Robert Zemeckis ($ 60 million)), and Ridley Scott ($ 400 million) and don’t have as much net worth as Spielberg. When Spielberg gave us (to the world) Jaws, E.T., Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park, among other things, how on earth did he amass so much more wealth than his contemporaries? It’s an interesting story, for sure.
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have a legendary friendship that has included many practical joke style bets and rivalries over the years. I’m a former student of the University of Southern California (Fight On Trojans!) And a long-standing story about the film school there having a building donated by Spielberg (who attended Cal State Long Beach, BTW ), it’s because he lost a bet to a former USC student George Lucas. It is true! In the late 1970s, Lucas was in the early stages of producing what would become Star Wars. Lucas was pretty confident at the time that his space cowboy opus was going to be a box office bomb. At the same time, Spielberg was working on close encounters of the third type. Lucas felt a little desperate about the chances of Star Wars success and said to Spielberg:
“He said,” Do you want to redeem points? I’ll give you two and a half percent of Star Wars if you give me two and a half percent of close encounters. “I said,” Sure, I’ll play with this, great. “”
Both films were successful, but Star Wars went beyond close encounters. There was also another aspect to their bet that whoever lost the bet had to donate a building to others’ alma mater. Spielberg tried to enter the USC two or three times depending on folklore and was refused. But he lost the bet and he donated a building to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Star Wars ended up earning billions. In the process, Steven made (and still makes to this day) a small fortune from a film with which he has nothing to do at all.
The other deal Spielberg has made has contributed significantly to his multi-billion-dollar equity since the early 1990s. At the time, Universal was part of MCA and the studio was, to say the least, in trouble. Then Jurassic Park came out. Universal’s parent company was short of money and quickly failed. The dinosaur movie was a huge success. It was the same for the sequels of 1997, 2001 and 2015. In fact, “Jurassic World” is the seventh most profitable film of all time. The fourth film in the series grossed $ 1.7 billion worldwide. The fifth film in the series, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, was released in 2018 and grossed $ 1.3 billion worldwide. The sixth film in the franchise, Jurassic World: Dominion, will be released in June 2021.
For 27 years, Universal has been printing money on the back of Jurassic Park films. But it could have taken a different path. In the late 80s, MCA / Universal was in trouble. Spielberg was already a major player and the biggest brand producer of Universal. But Steve Ross, who ran Time Warner at the time, wanted Spielberg to be on the ground of Warner Brothers. He launched a campaign to attract E.T. director of Universal. Time Warner had the money to do it and Ross liked to throw it away. MCA chief Sid Sheinberg, who was one of the people who led the first Spielberg champion as director and producer, was not about to lose his biggest star. Being strapped for cash at the time, Sheinberg couldn’t compete with the hard money Warner Brothers was offering Spielberg, so he did what he could and added a theme park clause to the contract. Spielberg. Spielberg would serve as a creative consultant on all the theme park attractions related to his films and any film he directed would remain at Universal.
The theme park advisory benefit paid Spielberg 2% of all park ticket revenues as well as part of the park concession revenue in perpetuity. Spielberg’s annual payment exceeds $ 50 million. This number will continue to grow unless it accepts a buyout. The clause allowed Spielberg to terminate the agreement in June 2017 and receive a single payment equal to the value of the contract. This would have amounted to around $ 535 million in mid-2017. Spielberg chose to stay in the deal and that means he could ultimately see a payment of $ 1 billion or more for his theme park clause. In 2017, Comcast was the parent company of Universal. Comcast and Spielberg have agreed to a new agreement in which Comcast has acquired a stake in its film studio, Amblin Partners, in an agreement that could ultimately pay more than $ 1 billion.
To sum up, Spielberg’s multi-billion dollar net worth is due to two chances he took. He and Lucas could not have predicted the success of their respective films. A theme park clause was new when it was written into the Spielberg contract. It might not have been worth much, but it was, and thanks in part to that, Spielberg has a net worth of $ 3.7 billion.