Do Screenwriters Get a Percentage of Box Office?

You’ve probably heard that studios spend millions of dollars for scripts each year. 

And now you’re wondering “How much percentage does a screenwriter receive?” 

In this post, we are going to find out exactly how much screenwriters earn as a percentage of the box office.

Usually screenwriters receive a percentage of the production budget of a film, typically 2%-3%. The percentage is determined by the agreement between the writers and studios. Sometimes the writers earn the WGA minimum of $77,000 if this is what was agreed upon.

When the film is a financial success, everyone involved in the production will gain more benefits including the screenwriters. A screenwriter will be compensated based on the type of script written and credited based on the film’s box office success.

What percentage of the budget does a screenwriter receive?

The percentage a screenwriter receives is determined by the terms of the sale agreement of the script. 

How much do screenplays usually sell for?

A screenplay usually sells depending on how much does your script going to cost to produce or what is the producer’s budget.  However, for the sake of clarity, let’s use the WGA minimum as a starting point.

The WGA minimum is the lowest amount of money a WGA writer can earn for writing a script, but rates rise year after year. In 2020, WGA released a “WGA schedule of minimum” which states the theatrical and television basic agreement. WGA spec script sales ranged from $77,000 to $145,000 so the average will cost around $68,000. The payments for selling a screenplay are done through installments. See the example below: 

     WGA 2020 Theatrical Minimums 

In theatrical rates, the WGA minimum for a screenplay with a budget of $5,000,000 or more is $145,469, on the other hand, the WGA minimum for a screenplay with a budget of $5,000,000 or less is $77,495. There is a price option that will take a minimum of 10% of the script. The cost of week-to-week feature employment is $6,307 per week, although it decreases the more weeks of work you have. The minimum wage would be $4,975 per week.

4. Top 10 World’s Highest-Grossing Screenwriter at Box Office Film

Screenwriting can mean thousands of dollars, particularly if it is a box office hit. Basically, a screenplay typically amounts for one to three percent of a film’s budget; however, when that budget increases, it makes a lot of money. 

So, here is the list of the top 10 world’s highest grossing screenwriters based on the worldwide box office of the movies they worked on.

Top Grossing Screenwriter at the Worldwide Box Office

As you can see, screenwriters write and produce movies that have a global audience. Stephen McFeely, Christopher Markus, and Steve Kloves are the most well-known writers in that role, having contributed to several of the best-known films like Avengers and Harry Potter movie series. 


Overall, there are a variety of ways for screenwriters to get paid and credited in a film, including determining their future income based on the movie’s worldwide release. However, the numbers change significantly every year. So, decide on a career path right now! If you’re an aspiring screenwriter, use it as a stepping stone to meet established industry experts and have your script produced.

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