Answer: If you’re not a member of the Writer’s Guild, then you’re not subject to receive Guild minimums for the sale of your material. You’re at the mercy of whatever the buyers want to pay.
These are the general parameters of how much money you should expect depending on the kind of material you’re selling. Remember these are estimates and represent the minimums that you should receive.
If you sell an idea or a storyline, you can expect to get $5,000 on the front end and about $20,000 on the back end if the movie gets produced.
If you sell a treatment, you should expect around $15,000 on the front end and $30,000 on the back end.
Finally, if you manage to sell a screenplay, you should receive at least $40,000 up front and $75,000 on the back end.
The front end means the money you will get at the point of sale as soon as the deal closes. The back end means the money that will be paid to you if and only if the project gets produced. Produced means when principal photography commences and the movie gets shot. The film does not have to be released for the writer to get paid. Once they shoot it, the screenwriter gets paid the back end.
This is an example of how the front and back end work. Let’s say you sell a screenplay and the deal is $40,000 against $75,000. You would receive $40,000 up front at the time of the sale, and receive another $35,000 if the movie goes into production. That’s a total of $75,000.Money Screenplay Steve Kaire Steve on Screenwriting Writers Guild