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Actors claim Paramount's deal with EPIX is costing them millions

Yahoo Finance entertainment reporter Allie Canal details how a group of actors are alleging that Paramount's new deal with EPIX is costing them to lose out on million of dollars and 'Avatar' returning to theaters ahead of its sequel release in December.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: According to a new report, the stars of those films say the studio's deal with the cable channel EPIX is costing them millions. For more, we're joined by Yahoo Finance's Ali Canal here in studio. So what's the deal here?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: So it's important to remember, Dave, that these actors, a lot of these movie stars, they get a share of the box office revenue. They get a share of the digital sales, those licensing agreements. What we're talking about here is specifically with third parties. So in the case of "Top Gun Maverick", that broke records, secured over 1.2 billion in global ticket sales. Those additional payouts for a star like Tom Cruise, that could be tens of millions of dollars.

So the emphasis in this case is on the licensing side. Now according to this Bloomberg report, Paramount is receiving way less from EPIX compared to other studios in similar types of deals. Netflix, for example, reportedly paid Sony about double what EPIX paid Paramount. We have Peacock, Amazon, same thing, paying Universal more than Paramount got from EPIX. And that's being reflected in these actors' paychecks.

So the big question is, did anyone sue? Not yet. But there are talks that potentially guilds, the unions, they could get involved. But really, all of this stems from the fact that our consumption habits have changed. The industry has changed. Streaming has really taken over. But that's not being reflected in these actors' contracts, their compensation packages. We have streamers like Netflix just buying the rights outright from a lot of these talent, a lot of the writers, producers, actors, instead of sharing in the profits, which is what historically has been done. So that's something that I think the industry is going to have to reckon with.

DAVE BRIGGS: Interesting.

SEANA SMITH: Ali, another big story that we want to bring up is what's happening with "Avatar". We know that the original was a huge hit. A sequel is on deck for later this year. But we're actually going to be seeing the original hit theaters once again. What can you tell us?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Yeah, starting this Friday, September 23, you're going to see the original. And I think this is a good thing. It's been 13 years since the original "Avatar" came out. When I was at the D23 Expo last weekend, they actually showed us four really long clips of the new "Avatar." And I got to say, the images, it just looked so crystal clear. You felt like you were immersed in the experience. But at the same time, I totally forgot every single character, I had no idea what was going on. It just reinforced the notion that this is something that we needed, that the audience needed.

James Cameron, he's really gung ho. He's really big on the theatrical experience. And he wants "Avatar" to be enjoyed on the big screen. So because of that, it's not going to be on Disney Plus. But it will be back on the platform before that new "Avatar" film comes out in December.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And it's good they're refreshing people's memories. Because 2009 feels like an eternity ago. I think just the year before that is when the first "Iron Man" movie came out. Now of course, also coming out this Friday is Olivia Wilde's "Don't Worry, Darling" though they might have a bit to worry about. Critics really haven't been very kind to this film, have they Ali?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Oh, this film, I mean, it just seems like this film can't get out of its own way. There's so much controversy between Florence Pugh not showing up for a lot of the promotions around this. You have Olivia Wilde. The reviews so far, they're starting to trickle in. 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. Only 72 reviews so far. So that number could change. We'll see what the users start to think and the viewers once this film hits theaters this upcoming weekend. But when this film first came around, it was at the top of their game.

There were 18 studios that were bidding for this. It was a $35 million production. Apparently, Warner Brothers is hoping that this film can get 18 million in that debut. So that's going to be the magic number to look out for. In my opinion, I think all press is good press. I don't know in this case.

DAVE BRIGGS: 35% on Rotten Tomatoes?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: But at the same time, I am-- I probably wouldn't be as interested in this movie without all the drama. I got to admit. But maybe I'm just a dramatic person. Who knows? But you've got to remember that there's still more critics to come. There's still more users. Maybe it's not the best film, but I do think people are going to go see it.