The Hollywood Reporter has surveyed the industry and come up with a pretty comprehensive list of what different professionals in Hollywood can expect to make, including writers who are selling scripts to studios.
Here’s what THR has to say:
FILM WRITER $100K-$1M A DRAFT
Feature film writers’ incomes continue to slide. According to the WGA West, screenwriters in Hollywood earned a combined total of $331 million last year, down nearly 25 percent from 2009. But some of them are doing pretty well. A screenwriter who sells a draft to a major studio can earn about $100,000, and a hot writer can score $1 million or more. Super scribes such as Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Simon Kinberg pull in as much as $5 million annually in writers’ fees (more when you add in residuals and producing earnings), while other top screenwriters earn closer to $2 million.
TV WRITER $3K-$6K A WEEK
In a gloomy Hollywood climate, the WGA says things are looking relatively bright for TV writers, who took in a combined total of $668.5 million last year, down just 6.2 percent from 2012. And TV residuals are booming: Last year, WGA members received $233.7 million in TV residuals, up 55 percent since 2012. Most staff writers work on 20-week contracts, at a rate of about $3,800 a week, though more senior writers earn about $6,000 a week. But the real money is in writing an entire episode on one’s own. That pays $24,788 a script, and considerably more if you create your own series (see “Showrunner”).
If you’re thinking about going the assistant route so that you can make the right contacts to get your scripts read (a proven way to get noticed as a writer) be prepared for the long hours and minimal pay:
AGENT’S ASSISTANT $10-$13 AN HOUR
At most agencies, you start in the mailroom, hope an assistant’s desk opens up, then dream of ascending the assistant ladder so you can be on the receiving end of middle-of-the-night email rants from top agents. At CAA, though — where Richard Lovett has five assistants and Kevin Huvane has four — you start as an assistant and move up to the mailroom agent-training program.
Check out the full list at The Hollywood Reporter.