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View Full Version : Did J.K. Rowling make more on the books or the movies?


Superhal
10-19-2009, 07:04 AM
And what's the difference?

edit: She wrote the Harry Potter books.

edit 2: To rephrase the title of the thread: Did she make more MONEY on the books or the movies?

coremelt
10-19-2009, 07:23 AM
And what's the difference?

edit: She wrote the Harry Potter books.

edit 2: To rephrase the title of the thread: Did she make more MONEY on the books or the movies?

There's probably no one who knows who would be willing to tell, it depends on how good her agent was in the negotiations over movie rights.

Her tax records aren't likely to be publicly available and probably wouldn't be broken up that way anyway.

Jonathan Chance
10-19-2009, 07:43 AM
Yeah, that would be a very complicated question.

1. What about product sales? Do those tie into the books or the movies? While there's more of it now there was certainly a LOT of it before the first movie came out.

2. What about licensing rights? Books on tape? Foreign language editions and so forth?

Anyway, only her team of accountants would know for certain. It's very likely that she, herself, couldn't tell you.

don't ask
10-19-2009, 07:59 AM
In 2000 published reports stated that Rowling had sold the movie rights for the first 4 movies for 1,000,000, about $2,000,000. She is rumored to be worth over $1 billion so I think it is safe to assume that she made far more from the 400,000,000 books she has sold than from movie rights.

Little Nemo
10-19-2009, 08:14 AM
Almost certainly the books. A typical royalty rate for hardcovers is 10-12.5% of the cover price (and the rate goes up with sales numbers so Rowling is making the high end). Softcovers get 7.5-10%.

Wendell Wagner
10-19-2009, 08:40 AM
Note that J. K. Rowling is only (tied for) the 1062th richest person in the world:

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2008/10/billionaires08_Joanne-(JK)-Rowling_CRTT.html

And $1,000,000,000 is the highest estimate of her wealth. Other websites guess more like $800,000,000. So if you think that you can become fabulously wealthy beyond your wildest dreams from writing, forget it. Even in the absolute best case you won't become one of the 1000 richest people in the world. In fact, you can't enter the top level of income from a job in entertainment at all (unless you count investing in entertainment companies). The richest people in the world are largely people you never heard of. I suspect that the $2,000,000 she made from selling the rights to the first four movies isn't nearly all she made from just those four movies. I presume that was just her initial payment. I presume she got some cut of the profits or of the gross.

FoieGrasIsEvil
10-19-2009, 08:56 AM
Note that J. K. Rowling is only (tied for) the 1062th richest person in the world:

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2008/10/billionaires08_Joanne-(JK)-Rowling_CRTT.html

And $1,000,000,000 is the highest estimate of her wealth. Other websites guess more like $800,000,000. So if you think that you can become fabulously wealthy beyond your wildest dreams from writing, forget it. Even in the absolute best case you won't become one of the 1000 richest people in the world. In fact, you can't enter the top level of income from a job in entertainment at all (unless you count investing in entertainment companies). The richest people in the world are largely people you never heard of. I suspect that the $2,000,000 she made from selling the rights to the first four movies isn't nearly all she made from just those four movies. I presume that was just her initial payment. I presume she got some cut of the profits or of the gross.

Isn't $800,000,000 considered "fabulously wealthy" by any stretch of the imagination?

AK84
10-19-2009, 09:08 AM
And what's the difference?

Difference between what? The amount between the books and the movies? The difference between the books and the movies?

tomndebb
10-19-2009, 09:17 AM
Isn't $800,000,000 considered "fabulously wealthy" by any stretch of the imagination?Yeah, I would think that having enough money to put one in the top .000000032% of the population would be more wealthy than most folks dream about. (When I buy my annual lottery ticket, I always figure that if I actually won, I would probably take home a few million, so numbers showing nine useful digits are generally beyond my dreams, either wildest or typical.)

It is true, of course, that even most successful writers never get into those income brackets and, depending on genre, a writer might be considered "successful" while barely cracking a six figure income, but the gap between making a good living and Ms.Rowling's income is large enough to encompass a lot of wild dreams.

drachillix
10-19-2009, 09:25 AM
Isn't $800,000,000 considered "fabulously wealthy" by any stretch of the imagination?

In my book, 80 million makes it.

Cardinal
10-19-2009, 09:31 AM
I presume that was just her initial payment. I presume she got some cut of the profits or of the gross.If her agent couldn't think of getting her a payment as a guaranteed minimum against a percentage of the gross income, he/she should be sued for malpractice (or whatever you would call it). Even I can think of that one, and I'm not an agent to the stars.

Exapno Mapcase
10-19-2009, 11:50 AM
Writers don't make a lot of money from selling books to films. No one, not even at the top of the food chain. There are just too many examples of wildly popular books not translating to film. I've never heard of a book deal that went for more than the low millions. Selling rights for the first 4 movies for 1,000,000 sounds right to me, whether that's each or all together.

And almost all deals are for a set fee, one time payment. Rowling may be the exception, but I've never heard of a writer getting gross points. Even if Rowling got one gross point on the last four movies, that's $10 million a movie worldwide. Good money unless you're a billionaire, in which case it's an additional 1%.

It's highly unlikely that Rowling made even 5% of her money from movie rights. She probably made more than that from merchandising. And her books made the vast majority. Not close.

Cardinal
10-19-2009, 05:45 PM
I'll take your word on authors getting back end points, but deal-rules are made to be broken, and could the movie producers think they could actually lose money on the final three (now four) movies? It's one of the biggest slamdunks in the history of movies. If actors get points, why can't Rowling's people negotiate for points?

Oh, I see you think it might have been 1M each. I had a paragraph about how these figures were almost impossibly low, but if it was 1M each, I can believe that.

Superhal
10-19-2009, 08:05 PM
My WAG is that she made more (as a % of the total take) on the movies vs the books, but she made more total on the books.

Interesting idea about the merchandising.

KneadToKnow
10-19-2009, 08:17 PM
In my book, 80 million makes it.

I could live quite merrily on the interest from a mere $2 million with nary a change in my lifestyle, save that I would be freed from the toil of gainful employment.

Just to start the venture debt-free and have a little "holy shit, I's rich as a motherf&cker" mad money, though, I'll take an even $3 million.

Exapno Mapcase
10-19-2009, 08:56 PM
I'll take your word on authors getting back end points, but deal-rules are made to be broken, and could the movie producers think they could actually lose money on the final three (now four) movies? It's one of the biggest slamdunks in the history of movies. If actors get points, why can't Rowling's people negotiate for points?

It's possible, certainly. I'm just saying I haven't heard anybody saying that it happened and it would be the talk of the writing community.
My WAG is that she made more (as a % of the total take) on the movies vs the books, but she made more total on the books.

I don't understand what you mean by this.

Wendell Wagner
10-19-2009, 10:02 PM
My definition of fabulously wealthy beyond your wildest dreams is being among the 1000 richest people in the world. No writer is in that group.

Snarky_Kong
10-19-2009, 10:37 PM
My definition of fabulously wealthy beyond your wildest dreams is being among the 1000 richest people in the world. No writer is in that group.

Mine's in the richest 3 people that ever lived. Absolutely nobody alive today will ever be fabulously wealthy.

Really? You have $1 less than #1000 and you're not fabulously wealthy? I'm getting wooshed right?

Chronos
10-19-2009, 10:53 PM
She's the richest woman in England. Surely that must count for something, especially since it means she's worth more than the Queen.

Personally, I think being richer than the monarch of the most powerful kingdom in the world is pretty fabulous.

Little Nemo
10-19-2009, 10:59 PM
My definition of fabulously wealthy beyond your wildest dreams is being among the 1000 richest people in the world.It would really suck if you were J.K. Rowling then. If only your dream was to be among the 1063 richest people in the world. You'd have made it.

Wendell Wagner
10-20-2009, 05:08 AM
J. K. Rowling isn't the richest woman living in the U.K. The richest woman living in the U.K. is Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, who is worth $7.3 billion. J. K. Rowling is tied for second richest woman living in the U.K. with Lily Safra (unless you separate out the woman in certain couples, as I mention in the next paragraph). Incidentally, Forbes doesn't rank Queen Elizabeth on their list, probably because it doesn't make much sense to distinguish what she owns herself and what the U.K. owns that she uses.

Rowling is tied with three other people for being the 48th richest person living in the U.K. There are several entries on the Forbes list of the richest people living in the U.K. that are well above Rowling which are married couples or families so that if you separated out the woman in the couple or family they would be richer than Rowling. If you want to look at the list, click on the link I give in my post. Towards the bottom of the webpage that comes up, there is a list of things to search on that includes "Residence". Click on that. This gives a list ordered by residence of the richest people. Unfortunately, Forbes was sloppy about classifying residence, so you have to merge the list of people living in the U.K. starting on page 25 of the list and the two living in Scotland listed on page 19 of the list.

This is really typical of posts here. Instead of talking about facts, like exactly what Rowling is really worth and whether someone else is richer, people want to argue about the meaning of "fabulous," as though it had a universally clear definition. Apparently this is because it would be too difficult for you to actually look up information that is not only available in a simple Internet search but is on a webpage that I've already linked to. It's also typical that people want to talk about the meaning of "fabulous" rather than the point that I wanted to make in my post, which is jobs in entertainment don't lead you to fabulous riches, unless you include investing in entertainment companies. My point in my post was that nearly all of the richest people in the world are people you've never heard of. Like everybody else, you're being celebrity-obsessed, as if entertainment celebrities were actually important in influencing the world. The people who really control the world are people you've never heard of.

Wendell Wagner
10-20-2009, 05:16 AM
Little Nemo writes:

> It would really suck if you were J.K. Rowling then. If only your dream was to be
> among the 1063 richest people in the world. You'd have made it.

Incidentally, I should make it clear that it's not *my* wildest dreams that I'm talking about. I was using "fabulously wealthy beyond your wildest dreams" in a generic sense. Being fabulously wealthy never enters in my dreams.

don't ask
10-20-2009, 05:22 AM
Perhaps you could adopt the phrase "fabulously wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of those persons that, unlike me, have wild dreams about fabulous wealth" for the sake of clarity.

Dewey Finn
10-20-2009, 09:33 AM
This is really typical of posts here. Instead of talking about facts, like exactly what Rowling is really worth and whether someone else is richer, people want to argue about the meaning of "fabulous," as though it had a universally clear definition. Apparently this is because it would be too difficult for you to actually look up information that is not only available in a simple Internet search but is on a webpage that I've already linked to. It's also typical that people want to talk about the meaning of "fabulous" rather than the point that I wanted to make in my post, which is jobs in entertainment don't lead you to fabulous riches, unless you include investing in entertainment companies. My point in my post was that nearly all of the richest people in the world are people you've never heard of. Like everybody else, you're being celebrity-obsessed, as if entertainment celebrities were actually important in influencing the world. The people who really control the world are people you've never heard of.
Um, you're the one who hijacked the thread by claiming that she's not "fabulously wealthy."

Edited to add that the posts before you managed to stick to a factual discussion of the question.

Little Nemo
10-20-2009, 09:52 AM
This is really typical of posts here. Instead of talking about facts, like exactly what Rowling is really worth and whether someone else is richer, people want to argue about the meaning of "fabulous," as though it had a universally clear definition. Apparently this is because it would be too difficult for you to actually look up information that is not only available in a simple Internet search but is on a webpage that I've already linked to. It's also typical that people want to talk about the meaning of "fabulous" rather than the point that I wanted to make in my post, which is jobs in entertainment don't lead you to fabulous riches, unless you include investing in entertainment companies. My point in my post was that nearly all of the richest people in the world are people you've never heard of. Like everybody else, you're being celebrity-obsessed, as if entertainment celebrities were actually important in influencing the world. The people who really control the world are people you've never heard of.Ummm...Wendall that was you. We were all talking about how much money Rowling made from books vs movies which was what the OP asked. Until you posted and went off on a tangent about how much money constitutes fabulous wealth, which nobody else had been talking about. And now you're talking about celebrities, which again is a subject nobody else has mentioned.

Wendell Wagner
10-20-2009, 10:09 AM
Little Nemo, is it too hard to just look up a little bit in the thread and notice how my name is spelled?

jjimm
10-20-2009, 10:47 AM
Little Nemo, is it too hard to just look up a little bit in the thread and notice how my name is spelled?Wow, there was I thinking you hijacked this thread, then whined about that exact hijack - but then you highlighted Little Nemo's minor faux pas and BLAM! I forgot all about it.

Colibri
10-20-2009, 11:06 AM
[Moderating]

Let's desist with the hijack about what constitutes "fabulously wealthy," especially since it has become acrimonious. The question on the table is the relative contribution of J.K. Rowling's earnings from books or movies. Let's stick to that. Those who wish to discuss what exactly "fabulously wealthy" means can open another thread in IMHO.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

N9IWP
10-20-2009, 01:48 PM
[QUOTE=Exapno Mapcase;11679135]Writers don't make a lot of money from selling books to films. No one, not even at the top of the food chain. There are just too many examples of wildly popular books not translating to film. I've never heard of a book deal that went for more than the low millions. Selling rights for the first 4 movies for 1,000,000 sounds right to me, whether that's each or all together.

And almost all deals are for a set fee, one time payment. Rowling may be the exception, but I've never heard of a writer getting gross points. ...[QUOTE]

We don't know how much, but the Tolkien Estate did manage to get a cut of the revenue of the recent movies.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/08/tolkien-estate-new-line-c_n_279625.html

Brian

N9IWP
10-29-2009, 03:40 PM
According to Forbes, JRRT's estate garnered $50 million. While book revenue was some of that "the majority was from movie profit sharing"

http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/27/top-earning-dead-celebrities-list-dead-celebs-09-business-entertainment-intro.html

Brian

Sunspace
10-29-2009, 04:21 PM
Did she have a hand in the screenplay of the movies?

KneadToKnow
10-29-2009, 04:36 PM
I believe she had final approval or veto power, Sunspace. I remember hearing that she intervened with the screenwriter for Order of the Phoenix tried to leave Kreacher out.

Dahu
10-29-2009, 04:38 PM
According to Forbes, JRRT's estate garnered $50 million. While book revenue was some of that "the majority was from movie profit sharing"

http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/27/top-earning-dead-celebrities-list-dead-celebs-09-business-entertainment-intro.html

Brian

That's not quite what the link says. His estate was $50m when he died in 1973 - so none of that would be from the movies. It says his estate got over $100m from the movies in an agreement in September.

It also says cause (of death) was "bleeding ulcer". I know the feeling.

N9IWP
10-29-2009, 05:50 PM
That's not quite what the link says. His estate was $50m when he died in 1973 - so none of that would be from the movies. It says his estate got over $100m from the movies in an agreement in September.

It also says cause (of death) was "bleeding ulcer". I know the feeling.


Rounding out the top five is author J.R.R. Tolkien, whose estate banked $50 million in the past 12 months



September's agreement was reported at over $100 million,


Dunno which is correct

Brian