Richard Linklater Says He’s Never Made Money Off ‘Dazed and Confused,’ Got ‘Screwed’ by Studio04/05/2022
“Dazed and Confused” is one of the defining American independent films of the 1990s and one of the most beloved cult classics of all time, but it turns out the film’s enduring legacy has never resulted in money for writer-director Richard Linklater. The filmmaker was recently asked by The Daily Beast if he made money off “Dazed and Confused,” to which he responded, “Fuck no!”
“It’s like… where’s my money?” Linklater asked. “How come a movie that cost less than $7 million has $12 million in interest against it?”
When asked how “Dazed and Confused” can be a cult hit for nearly three decades and counting and not make money for him, Linklater responded, “I don’t know. Ask Universal! Hollywood accounting. I remember really asking for a piece of the soundtrack, because I picked all the songs, and they were like, ‘Oh no…First film, you know?’ N.W.A is still pissed off about that first contract. Everybody has that first story of getting screwed with their first project. That film was an indie success. It made more than it cost theatrically, and over the years it’s been everywhere.”
Linklater said the home video market for “Dazed and Confused” produced at least $30 million dollars or so of revenue, but he did not get a single piece of it. Universal did not respond to Variety’s request for comment.
“That’s such a cliché to bitch about. But I did go through the Hollywood experience,” Linklater said. “Here I complain, but they did greenlight the film, and they wouldn’t greenlight the film today. Cast of unknowns? Period film when not much happens, riding around? One film out of Sundance? I don’t think there’s a pitch for that movie today, so I sit here very, very blessed that I came along at a time when studios were going, ‘Hey, we’ll make this and this and then throw some chump change over to these guys.’ I’m still grateful I got the film made, and got it made the way I wanted it to.”
Linklater wrote an essay for The Guardian in 2019 in which he said he still had PTSD from battling the studio over making “Dazed and Confused” his way. The director said that Universal president Tom Pollock had the studio on high alert over Linklater after fearing the director would make an “arty, jerk-offski movie” like his 1990 breakthrough “Slacker.” Linklater added that his love for improvisation on set also worried the studio.
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