The Movies That Own You

“An obscure contract clause is reshaping show-business deal making, sometimes ruining the very relationships it is supposed to cement. Called an option, this contract term legally obligates actors and directors to work in a number of subsequent films, often at below-market rates, as a condition of employment in an initial movie. Used for years with little acrimony to bind performers to sequels, options are turning some contract talks into what look more like hostage negotiations.”