Showbiz Terminology Pocket Guide

In case you need a translation of showbiz lingo, we have this little pocket guide you can print out, fold up, and keep in your pocket. But brace yourself, because there’s a complete disconnect between what a word means in English and what it means in Hollywood. When Humpty Dumpty said, “When I use a word, it means exactly what I mean,” he must have thought he was in Hollywood. So this is it:

United States means the United States (including our 51st state, Canada and, for fun, all of the Caribbean).

Domestic means the United States (including our 51st state, Canada, and all of the Caribbean).

North America means the United States and – you guessed it – Canada and all of the Caribbean, but not Mexico. On Hollywood maps, Mexico is part of South America because Mexicans speak Spanish.

First look means, depending on who you ask, either (a) a right of first negotiation, the weakest form of a right to acquire something, or (b) an option, the strongest form of a right to acquire something. acquire something. So if you like litigation, use that term often.

Raw. How could “gross” need a definition? Well, if you ask a studio, that means only 20% of the VOD is included, and that also means a bunch of “over the top” expenses are deducted (see below).

Adjusted gross means, well, basically the same as “gross”, unless you’re an agent who wants to tell your client that they got a share of “adjusted gross”, in which case it could mean “net” (see below).

Report means $0.

Actual break-even point means “net” (see above).

Extravagant spending means a bunch of expenses that the studios say should always be deducted in fairness, even from the “gross”, though most of the expenses have nothing to do with the movie (like commercial rights) or should not be deducted at all (such as taxes for which a credit is available).

Budget means a forward-looking estimate of expected production costs – uh, except when it’s a retrospective statement of actual production costs.

Attched (as in “Brad Pitt is attached”) means that you have sent the script to the actor’s agent and have not yet received a rejection letter.

nes stands for non-disclosure agreement. It also means that anything leaked under it will be summed up on an online blog within minutes, because there are no secrets in Hollywood.

pay or play means that the person is absolutely guaranteed to be paid (unless a number of standard conditions override the guarantee).

pay and play means you cannot get a completion bond (see ‘completion bond’ below).

Completion guarantee means a guarantee that your film will be professionally finished on time exactly as originally planned (although the surety company will use a camcorder and ask the actors to read their lines if they have to resume production).

loan company. “If you want to find a Granfalloon, peel the skin off a toy balloon.” – Kurt Vonnegut, The Cat’s Cradle.

Transaction note, term sheet or letter of intent means the lame, half-baked document attached as Exhibit A to a Complaint.

green light means someone says the movie will be produced (unless someone else says it won’t).

Residues are one of the main reasons why most movies lose money.

Difference means the difference between reality (the few dollars the producer has) and fantasy (the fully funded budget).

Pre-sale means the sale of a film before production based on a package of lies.

Notice of Assignment means a document sent by the lending bank against a “pre-sale” which cancels all lies of the “pre-sale”.

Single Image Financing denotes a transaction in which investors lose money on a single film.

Slate Funding means a transaction in which investors lose money on a pile of films.

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