All aspects of executive producer agreements are negotiable and vary widely, because there is no regulatory agency or union that dictates the role of an executive producer. Executive producer is sometimes a credit given to stars in a movie that may or may not substantially contribute to production activities, or contribute little more than the power established by attaching their name to the film. With regard to producers that contribute to the production of a project, executive producer agreements generally establish the relationship between a studio and a producer. These agreements may cover production requirements, compensation, credit, approval rights, first negotiation rights, insurance, travel expense, premieres and festivals, videos and DVDs.
Production requirements may include picture length, budget, screenplay conformity, ratings, cover shots and end credits. Picture length dictates the minimum and maximum run time of the finished project. Budgets are approved by studios, and producers are required to stay within the approved budget. Studios often require that producers conform to approved shooting scripts. Studios specify the rating for the film. Studios often require cover shots that are used to replace explicit or crude content in movies when a movie airs on public broadcast television and other non-theatrical mediums. Sometimes studios impose a maximum end credit run time.
Compensation clauses may cover the development fee, guaranteed fee and contingent compensation. Development fees are advanced to producers during development periods against their guaranteed compensation. Guaranteed fees are known as producer fees, and are the producer's compensation for providing his production services through the course of the project. Contingent compensation rules establish the compensation a producer is entitled to as a percentage of a movie's net proceeds in addition to guaranteed fees. A common contingent compensation agreement pays the producer 25 to 50 percent of a movie's net proceeds.
With regard to credits, executive producer agreements may cover how the producer's credit appears on the screen and on advertising materials in addition to the font size or relative font size of the credit. Placement may be secured on a "separate card" that is displayed by itself, and without any other credits on the screen. Some executive producer agreements secure a presentation credit that appears as, for example, "a Jim Henson Production" or "in association with Lucasfilm."
Some executive producer agreements grant approval rights to producers. These rights usually depend on the producer's experience, because they grant control over the creative elements of a production. For example, approval rights may grant a producer control over the principal cast, key crew members, final screenplay, budget, music, shooting locations, marketing campaign and the distribution release pattern.
The first negotiation clause in an executive producer agreement usually grants a producer the first opportunity to begin negotiations as a producer on subsequent productions derived from the original. Subsequent productions covered in first negotiation clauses include prequels, sequels and remakes.
Insurance and Expenses
Executive producer agreements often include the specific insurance coverage a studio provides for the producer. Executive producer agreements often guarantee reimbursement for additional expenses incurred by a producer. These guarantees are negotiated for, and depend on the budget and perceived expenses associated with fulfilling the producer's responsibilities.
Premieres and Videos
Executive producer agreements often contain guarantees that the producer is invited to all premieres and festival showings of a movie. These guarantees may require a studio to cover a producer's travel, lodging, meals and ground transportation expenses. Executive producer agreements usually guarantee the producer receives a copy of the movie on home video when it becomes commercially available.