Will 'The Call's' Big Opening Mean Bigger Paycheck for Halle Berry?

5:00 AM PST 03/20/2013 by Tatiana Siegel
TriStar Pictures
Halle Berry in "The Call"

While the actress won't enjoy a pay hike for her next project, "X-Men: Days of Future Past," her future quote is expected to rise.

Coming off the surprisingly strong opening of the thriller The CallHalle Berry finds herself in the driver’s seat when it comes to her next move.

But the actress will not enjoy a payday hike for her next project, X-Men: Days of Future Past. Berry signed on to reprise her role as mutant Storm in the 20th Century Fox film days before The Call's box office performance proved that she could single-handedly carry a film.

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Sources say the Oscar winner will earn the same per-week salary as her X-Men co-stars Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (though she will work fewer weeks than they do). In fact, few would have guessed before The Call's $17.1 million opening that Berry would be in a position to leverage. Heading into the March 15-17 weekend, The Call was only tracking to open in the $10 million to $11 million range.

But thanks to the film's showing -- fueled in large part by African-American moviegoers and females -- Berry is expected to see a salary bump and higher-profile opportunities for future projects. The actress was recently approached by producer-director Ivan Reitman to play the female lead in the Kevin Costner star vehicle Draft Day (that film, which is based on this year's No. 1-ranked Black List script, is not currently set up at studio, though Lionsgate/Summit has been circling with an eye on how casting shapes up).

But Berry and Reitman parted ways before making a deal, offering a glimpse into her camp's mindset. 

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CAA has repped Berry since 2010 after she left longtime agent Toni Howard of ICM. It's no surprise that CAA declined to participate in this story (the actress famously canned WMA in 2005 after agent David Wirtschafter discussed her point participation deal for the film Perfect Stranger, a box office disappointment). But the agency has been quietly orchestrating a reboot of Berry's career -- not an easy task given the dearth of roles available for actresses over 40, particularly actresses of color.

But CAA helped her land two important roles: The Call and Cloud Atlas. And though Cloud Atlas was a box office dud domestically, earning just $27.1 million, the film made a solid showing overseas with $94.4 million.

The Call proved to be the bigger gamble, with the $13 million film's success or failure resting squarely on Berry's shoulders, whereas Cloud Atlas was an ensemble drama.

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But Sony and its label TriStar, which marketed and distributed The Call domestically, seems to have found the winning formula in targeting African-Americans and women (females made up 56 percent of the audience). The studio engineered a savvy marketing campaign, hosting a number of word-of-mouth screenings and dispatching Berry on a busy promotional tour. The film's top 10 performing theaters all skewed heavily African-American, while 48 percent of the overall audience cited Berry as the reason for turning out.

The Call, which was sold internationally by Sierra/Affinity, is expecting a lucrative foreign run.

Moving forward, Berry has not booked a role beyond X-Men: Days of Future Past. She was once attached to star in the John Singleton-helmed drama Tulia but is no longer. Still, Berry is once again a bankable star that a studio can build a movie around. 

Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.

Email: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com, Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27

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