How Channing Tatum Bet On Himself And Built "Magic Mike" Into An XXXL Financial Empire

By on February 13, 2023 in ArticlesEntertainment

Here's how 99.99% of movies get made in Hollywood: Someone writes a compelling script. A studio pays the screenwriter for the rights to make that script into a film. Assuming the script actually gets green-lit, the studio spends millions of dollars producing it into an actual film. Whatever profits are generated at the box office, after theaters take a 40% cut, belong entirely to the studio. A superstar screenwriter will only make a couple hundred grand in TOTAL from this process, even from a movie that becomes a blockbuster smash.

As with most business ventures, whoever takes the most risk receives the biggest reward (and conversely the biggest financial burden if the project is a flop). In the previous scenario, our lowly screenwriter didn't take on any risk. They were paid a fair market rate to perform a service and then sent on their way.

There's nothing wrong with this strategy. Studios can afford the risk. Screenwriters can not.


If you ever find yourself sitting on an screenplay that you're absolutely 100% certain is going to make a fortune, there's another route you can take:

Bet on yourself.

Take on some risk by chipping in your own money. That's why George Lucas is billionaire. That's why Mel Gibson earned an enormous fortune from "Passion of the Christ." That's how Todd Phillips earned enough money from "The Hangover" to buy a $10 million Malibu mansion AND a $30 million Beverly Hills mansion.

A little more than a decade ago Channing Tatum was looking to semi-autobiographical movie based on his days dancing as a male stripper in Tampa. Like George, Mel and Todd before him, Channing was absolutely 100% sure his make stripper drama was going to make a fortune. So he bet on himself. And today he sits atop an XXXL "Magic Mike" financial empire.

(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

An XXXL Empire Is Born

In case you weren't already aware, Channing Tatum did indeed work as a stripper in Tampa after dropping out of college. His stripper name was "Chan Crawford." In 2000, Channing drove to Orlando to audition to be a backup dancer in the Ricky Martin music video "She Bangs". He won the part and earned $400. He was an Abercrombie guy, appeared in some commercials and worked mostly a model until 2006 when he landed a starring role opposite Amanda Bynes in the movie "She's The Man." That same year he had his breakout role opposite future wife (now ex-wife) Jenna Dewan in "Step Up." Despite being critically panned, "Step Up" earned a surprising $114 million at the box office on a $12 million budget..

In 2010 Channing had a role in the Steven Soderberg film "Haywire." A year later, while sitting next to Soderberg answering questions at a press junket for "Haywire", Channing mentioned his desire to adapt his early life as a stripper into a film. Soderberg was intrigued and later agreed to meet Channing for lunch, apparently at a hot dog joint (not sure if that was foreshadowing). At that hot dog lunch, Soderberg agreed to direct the film on one condition:

They had to co-finance the $7 million budget with their own money.

Channing agreed.

"Magic Mike" was released on June 24, 2012. It went on to make $167 million at the box office. It made tens of millions more from home rentals and DVD sales. After all costs were subtracted, Steven and Channing both earned…

$60 million

They both earned another $30 million when the second film made $122 million on a $15 million budget. For a total pay day of…

$90 million, a piece

But that's not where this story ends.

Just a couple days ago a third, and apparently final, film installment titled "Magic Mike's Last Dance" was released in theaters worldwide. This third installment, which was produced with a $50 million production budget, was the highest grossing film at the US box office this weekend, with $8 million in domestic earnings, slightly topping "Avatar: The Way of Water." It earned $18 million globally, just shy of Avatar's $19 million global receipts.

But once again, that's not where this story ends.

In addition to the three films, Magic Mike has been franchised into a live act that tours the globe and has a permanent residency in Las Vegas at the Sahara casino. To date, Magic Mike has sold $125 MILLION worth of tickets to its various live acts. Let me repeat that:

$125 million

It's not known how much Channing earns from the live show since its a franchise model where he has licensed the rights to the Sahara likely for a flat annual fee. Considering how much other performers make licensing their IP to Vegas, I wouldn't blush if you told me "Magic Mike" will stuff a few million dollars into Channing's G-string every year, for the rest of his life.

Not bad for a college dropout former stripper! Goes to show you how powerful betting on yourself can be!

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