Two of the luckiest men in the world are Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Additionally, the fact that they are two of the funniest men in the world doesn’t hurt. But in today’s self-immolating culture where people get canceled for a Halloween costume they wore in middle school, the “South Park” guys have somehow managed to stay totally untouchable. They have startled, outraged, and ridiculed all facets of society for almost 25 years now with complete impunity. And today they are receiving a MASSIVE prize for their great performance.
This morning, Bloomberg reported that ViacomCBS and Matt and Trey had agreed to a six-year, $900 million mega-deal. It’s one of the biggest and richest talent contracts in Hollywood history, paying out $150 million every contract year. To put the scale in perspective, it would be a significant accomplishment for a producer to secure a deal that paid $20 million year.
With today’s new deal, Matt and Trey (Matt is on the left, Trey is on the right in the photo below), will make six more seasons of regular “South Park” episodes. Additionally, 14 “South Park” movies will be produced solely for Paramount+, a streaming service run by ViacomCBS.
An Empire is Born
They eventually made the decision to produce “The Spirit of Christmas,” an animated short. They used animated construction paper cutouts with stop-motion and featured early versions of what would become the world-famous “South Park” main characters.
Stone and Parker revised their short in 1995 at the request of a buddy who worked as a Fox executive and wanted to send it as his holiday card. The Fox executive really mailed VHS recordings to his friends. They created duplicates and distributed them to their pals. A decade before YouTube was ever a thought, the video practically overnight became popular among some of Hollywood’s most influential and brilliant people. Pretty soon, Parker and Stone were developing a television show for relatively unknown TV network called Comedy Central, which at the time was known for the Craig Kilborn-hosted iteration of “The Daily Show.”
The Daily Show is currently Comedy Central’s longest-running program, with “South Park” coming in second.
An Accidental Billion Dollar Brilliant Deal
Let’s return to that year, 2007. Housing costs were skyrocketing. Lehman Brothers executives were confidently collecting stock options. Running around and chatting about who knows what was Sarah Palin. YouTube had JUST been bought by Google and was in the midst of a $1 billion copyright lawsuit brought on by Viacom.
Being a Viacom attorney around this time was extremely busy because Matt and Trey’s contract with Comedy Central, a Viacom subsidiary, came up for renewal.
When a different deal expired in 1997, Matt and Trey’s attorney sneaked a clause into their contract that guaranteed them a 50 percent split of any income made outside of the show’s actual television broadcast. That clause was virtually useless for around twenty years. The word wasn’t valuable even in 2007, when streaming services or digital advertising existed.
When the contract comes up for renewal in 2019 and the soon-to-be-launched HBO To be the show’s sole streaming home for five years, Max agreed to pay $500 million. Half of that money went to Matt and Trey.
Multi-Billion Dollar Empire
Unbelievably, even with today’s $900 million deal, Matt and Trey are not giving up their 50% digital rights ownership. To put things in perspective, this is hardly the same as when George Lucas gave Disney the rights to “Star Wars.” In exchange for continuing to produce content without really selling anything, Matt and Trey will receive $900 million. Bloomberg estimates that their 50% ownership of the digital market is now worth an additional $1 billion.
And “South Park” isn’t the only pillar in the Parker/Stone empire. The pair also wrote “The Book of Mormon,” one of the greatest musical successes ever. Even after being taken down by COVID, “Mormon” has so far brought in over $500 million. The musical has received a Grammy and nine Tony Awards.
Finally, according to Bloomberg, Matt and Trey are currently creating documentaries, video games, and are starting a marijuana company through a different $600 million transaction they signed earlier this year with a private financial institution.
We currently peg Trey Parker’s net worth at $600 million and Matt Stone at $700 million (Matt’s a little higher because Trey has been married and divorced twice). I believe it is safe to say that they will both become billionaires soon. Consider that. Billionaires from South Park!
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