When Universal decided to make American Reunion, the fourth theatrical film in its lucrative American Pie franchise, it was determined to meet two goals: Produce the movie for less than the $55 million that 2003’s American Wedding cost, and reunite the entire cast of the original 1999 comedy for a story that would see the characters congregate for their 10-year high school reunion.
How the studio met those challenges is a study in prolonging a franchise on a sensible budget. Production on the $50 million film, which wrapped this summer in advance of an April 6 release, was moved to Georgia to take advantage of a generous tax credit.
Then the studio played hardball with the actors, who have experienced mixed levels of success outside of the franchise.
According to sources, Universal is paying Jason Biggs and Seann William Scott a robust $5 million each, plus a small slice of first-dollar gross, to reprise their roles.
Alyson Hannigan, star of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, is getting about $3 million. And veteran Eugene Levy, who starred in four profitable direct-to-DVD Pie films that helped make the property a billion-dollar franchise, is said to have received a payday also in the $3 million range.
The rest of the cast — which includes Chris Klein, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Natasha Lyonne, Jennifer Coolidge, Mena Suvari and Shannon Elizabeth — is being paid far less, say sources, most in the $500,000 to $750,000 range (though bonuses for some could kick in if the film is a hit, as expected).
Rounding out the list is Tara Reid, who is said to have joined Reunion for close to the $250,000 that Universal initially offered. A studio rep calls the figures “inaccurate” but declines further comment.