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Contractual Obligation Project

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Works—good and bad—mainly done to fulfill a contract

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Lawman592 on Aug 14th 2017 at 1:41:54 PM
Last Edited By:
Lawman592 on Oct 19th 2017 at 3:37:36 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Is This Tropable? - Do We Have This - Needs More Examples - Rolling Updates - Up for Grabs


Trivia page about the works creators say they mainly did to fulfill a contractual obligation.

Similar to Money, Dear Boy except the creator's goal in many instances is avoid losing money as a result of getting sued for breach of contract and having to expend legal costs and--in the worst case scenario--damages.

For a creator involved in a contractual obligation project, the obligation aspect looms over everything. A typical example is when there's a final project left in a long-term agreement between parties whose relationship has soured. The enthusiasm for this last project may be low since at least one party just wants to get it over with and end the deal. Other times, the Contractual Obligation Project may be one creators will do just so they can get to do another more enticing project that's also part of the deal. This does not mean, however, a Contractual Obligation Project is all but guaranteed of being a dud. There are times when, in spite of everything, the final product will end up being financially successful, award-winning, and well-regarded.

Compare Ash Can Copy.


Examples

    open/close all folders 
     Films — Live-Action 
  • Even though the film ended up winning her an Academy Award, Elizabeth Taylor never liked Butterfield 8 and only did the movie because it was required under her contract.
  • The Cat in the Hat is an example due to Mike Myers and Bo Welch being forced under threat of a lawsuit to work on the movie.
  • The existence of Cutthroat Island had a lot to do with it being a Contractual Obligation Product for many of the people involved. The producers, for example were obligated to make the film because the money had already been raised and star Geena Davis and director Renny Harlin were contractually tied to do it.
  • Kelly Clarkson pretty much said this for the execrable From Justin to Kelly - "Two Words : contractually obligated!"
  • Jessica Chastain was given a starring role in Crimson Peak provided that she would also later appear in The Huntsman: Winter's War.
  • Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert thought It Happened One Night would flop and were only in the film to fulfill contractual obligations. Both would go on to win Oscars for the movie which also won for Best Picture.
  • The Beatles signed a contract with United Artists in late 1963 to make three movies, two of which were the very well-received A Hard Day's Night and Help!. Yellow Submarine was intended by the band to be their third, but as it was an animated film and they decline to voice their likenesses until the very end scene, the studio said it didn't satisfy their contract. This led to the band making the infamous The Magical Mystery Tour, which was universally savaged for it's incomprehensible plot and poor acting.
  • Sylvester Stallone starred in Over the Top purely to fulfil his contract with Cannon Films.
  • Paul Newman agreed to star in When Time Ran Out... out of contractual obligation and later called it the worst film he ever did. On the bright side, much of Newman's salary from "When Time Ran Out" provided the seed money to begin his successful charity, Newman's Own.
  • Sam Raimi was obligated to make Spider-Man 3 and adding Venom as the main antagonist, in which he stated that character doesn't like it as well the addition of Gwen Stacey to the film, when originally the main antagonist were only Sandman and Harry Osborn as the new Green Goblin. Venom and Gwen were added by petition of Avi Arad and the producers (most like an contractual obligation), making this movie messy and the reason why it's the lowest point of first Spider-Man trilogy. After those problems, Raimi left the studios, so the reboot The Amazing Spider-Man was made later.
  • Whoopi Goldberg reluctantly did Theodore Rex to fulfill a contractual obligation and avoid paying damages from a lawsuit by the film's producers.

    Music 
  • When Marvin Gaye got divorced in 1977, he agreed to give his ex-wife half the proceeds from his next album. The result was Here, My Dear, which was panned by critics and fans alike. Rumors that he intentionally made a bad album that wouldn't sell soon arose.
  • Axis: Bold as Love by The Jimi Hendrix Experience was a contractual obligation album because the Experience was required to release two albums in 1967. Despite this, it is regarded as a classic and was listed at #83 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
  • After the death of Van Morrison's producer Bert Berns, Morrison was still contracted for an album to his Bang Records company, owned by Berns' widow Ilena, with whom Morrison didn't get along. To get out of his contract, Morrison recorded an album worth of desultory, sometimes intentionally offensive "songs" such as "Ring Worm", "Here Comes Dumb George", and "Blow in Your Nose". They sometimes get released as "rarities" to hoodwink completists.
  • Musicians frequently release Cover Albums, Christmas Albums, Live Albums, or Greatest Hits Albums as a quick, easy way to fulfill a contract.

    Recorded And Stand Up Comedy 
  • Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album expressly invokes this trope: it contained a minimum of brand new material, and that was often deliberately thrown together and made to look slapdash and amateurish whilst still remaining funny. Most of the rest consists of off-cuts from film scripts, and reworkings of old sketches and songs that go back to the middle 1960's, and which were originally intended for radio and TV shows that preceded Python by some years. Some sketches had indeed already been perfomed on British radio and TV by other people.

     Television 
  • This trope is invoked in-universe in the final episode of 30 Rock when, after the show-within-the-show "TGS" is cancelled, another episode has to be produced in order to avoid having to give Tracy a $30 million payout.

     Video Games 
  • thatgamecompany made a three-game deal with Sony in order to put themselves on the map of the video game industry. The results were flOw, Flower, and Journey, and the aforementioned deal is the sole reason why all three of them remain Sony console-exclusives to this day.

     Western Animation 
  • In the Family Guy parody of Return of the Jedi, the Opening Crawl veers off into a rant about how they're tired of parodying Star Wars, says that Fox made them produce it, and asks people to lower their expectations, after a non sequitur about raccoons.
  • The three The Fox and the Crow cartoons produced by Creator/UPA were a contractual obligation for their distribution contract with Columbia Pictures. UPA wanted to do cartoons that steered away from the cliches of the day, such as the use of Funny Animals and Slapstick, both of which the Fox and Crow cartoons exemplified in spades. The cartoons were actually well received (two were nominated for Academy Awards), which gave UPA free rein to make their own films with their own characters.
  • An in-universe example occurs in the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Wacky Delly" when Ralph Bighead ends production on his show The Fatheads to create his artistic masterpiece. However, his network contract states that he has to make one more show so, to get it over with, Ralph hires Rocko, Heffer and Filburt to make a pilot for the new show, hoping it will be bad enough to get the executives to cancel his contract. Unfortunately, they love Wacky Delly and the show becomes a massive hit.
  • VeggieTales: Invoked in a song that was so pointless, Larry's voice actor supposedly refused to finish it (though this was probably written-in meta-humor). "The Song Under the Credits" was its name, and in the middle of a chorus of "Hey hey ho-ho-ho-ho" the actor left, while the other actors chewed him out for leaving, telling him "We have contractual obligations to finish this song!"

Feedback: 30 replies

Aug 14th 2017 at 2:54:45 PM

Definitely a trivia trope, definitely requires Word Of God. With that in mind, could be tropable.

Aug 14th 2017 at 3:28:23 PM

^ Yeah, I think this is tropable with the above caveats.

Aug 14th 2017 at 11:07:28 PM

Maybe remove the "TV Tropes'" and "Page" from the title to make sound more like a legitimate trope.

Aug 15th 2017 at 11:56:43 AM

I suggest "Contractual Obligation Works" for a title, the current title is needlessly long-winded.

Aug 16th 2017 at 5:47:13 PM

Does anybody have any examples?

Aug 16th 2017 at 6:00:09 PM

  • The Beatles signed a contract with United Artists in late 1963 to make three movies, two of which were the very well-received A Hard Days Night and Help. Yellow Submarine was intended by the band to be their third, but as it was an animated film and they decline to voice their likenesses until the very end scene, the studio said it didn't satisfy their contract. This led to the band making the infamous The Magial Mystery Tour, which was universally savaged for it's incomprehensible plot and poor acting.

Aug 17th 2017 at 1:46:49 AM

After the death of Van Morrison's producer Bert Berns, Morrison was still contracted for an album to his Bang Records company, owned by Berns' widow Ilena, with whom Morrison didn't get on. To get out of his contract, Morrison recorded an album worth of desultory, sometimes intentionally offensive "songs" such as "Ring Worm", "Here Comes Dumb George", and "Blow in Your Nose". They sometimes get released as "rarities" to hoodwink completists.

Aug 17th 2017 at 1:48:16 PM

Stand Up Comedy? Music? Other?

Monty Python's Contractual Obligation was an LP record that expressly invokes this trope: it contained a minimum of brand new material, and that was often deliberately thrown together and made to look slapdash and amateurish whilst still remaining funny. Most of the rest consists of off-cuts from film scripts, and reworkings of old sketches and songs that go back to the middle 1960's, and which were originally intended for radio and TV shows that preceded Python by some years. Some sketches had indeed already been perfomed on British radio and TV by other people.

Aug 23rd 2017 at 2:50:56 PM

I'll being adding more to the explanation section later. For now, the goal is to collect examples.

Aug 17th 2017 at 8:32:57 PM

I think we should make the title singular.

Aug 18th 2017 at 11:32:14 AM

Kelly Clarkson pretty much said this for the execrable From Justin To Kelly - "Two Words : contractually obligated!"

Aug 18th 2017 at 12:22:16 PM

The Cat In The Hat may be an example of this due to Mike Myers and Bo Welch being forced to work on that movie.

Aug 18th 2017 at 2:43:46 PM

Here's an in-univeese example:

  • In the Rockos Modern Life episode "Wacky Delly", Ralph Bighead ends production on his show The Fatheads to create his artistic masterpiece, but his network contract states that he has to make one more show. To get it over with, Ralph hires Rocko, Heffer and Filburt to make a pilot for the new show, hoping it will be bad enough to get the executives to cancel his contract. However, they love Wacky Delly and the show becomes a massive hit.

Aug 18th 2017 at 6:53:26 PM

Musicians frequently release Cover Albums, Christmas Albums, or Greatest Hits Albums as a quick, easy way to fulfill a contract.

Aug 19th 2017 at 5:09:15 PM

The three The Fox And The Crow cartoons produced by Creator/UPA were a contractual obligation for their distribution contract with Columbia Pictures. UPA wanted to do cartoons that steered away from the clichés of the day, such as the use of Funny Animals and Slapstick, both of which the Fox and Crow cartoons exemplified in spades. The cartoons were actually well received (two were nominated for Academy Awards), which gave UPA free rein to make their own films with their own characters.

Aug 23rd 2017 at 8:49:36 AM

The name sounds like it's about any contractual obligation, rather than one about creating a work.

Aug 23rd 2017 at 2:17:52 PM

This is a potentially viable trope, but don't give it hats. It's not anywhere near ready to launch yet - it doesn't even have a description.

Sep 5th 2017 at 8:02:05 AM

Film - Live-Action:

  • Sam Raimi was obligated to make Spider Man 3 and adding Venom as the main antagonist, in which he stated that character doesn't like it as well the addition of Gwen Stacey to the film, when originally the main antagonist were only Sandman and Harry Osborn as the new Green Goblin. Venom and Gwen were added by petition of Avi Arad and the producers (most like an contractual obligation), making this movie messy and the reason why it's the lowest point of first Spider-Man trilogy. After those problems, Raimi left the studios, so the reboot The Amaing Spider Man was made later.

Also, I changed folder to AC, since there isn't enough examples that justify using it, and deleting empty categories. Rolling Updates it's not enough to save this, someone should Up For Grabs this if don't want to be discarded

Sep 5th 2017 at 10:28:11 AM

If the movie in question is terrible, this can also be the studio's way of telling the cast and/or crew in question, "You Have Outlived Your Usefulness," as was the case with Whoopi Goldberg and Theodore Rex.

Sep 7th 2017 at 9:12:18 AM

  • In the Family Guy parody of Return Of The Jedi, the Opening Crawl veers off into a rant about how they're tired of parodying Star Wars, says that Fox made them produce it, and asks people to lower their expectations, after a non sequitur about raccoons.

Sep 8th 2017 at 5:44:33 AM

  • That Game Company made a three-game deal with Sony in order to put themselves on the map of the video game industry. The results were flOw, Flower, and Journey, and the aforementioned deal is the sole reason why all three of them remain Sony console-exclusives to this day.

Sep 10th 2017 at 6:36:27 PM

The final episode of Thirty Rock had this as the theme of the show-within-the-show, with a final episode of the cancelled "TGS" having to be made to avoid having to give Tracy a $30 million payout.

Sep 12th 2017 at 2:03:57 PM

Geena Davis starred in Cutthroat Island as a contractual obligation, some critics signal this as one of the reasons behind the movie's bombing as her performance wasn't the best.

I also wonder if the tragic case of Kei$ha would count

Sep 28th 2017 at 11:31:53 AM

Shoot...wasn't one of the Power Rangers seasons around the time of R.P.M. created because it said in the contract that they had to do another season? Was that season R.P.M. itself, or was it the one before it—-or after it?

  • Veggie Tales: Invoked in a song that was so pointless, Larry's voice actor supposedly refused to finish it (though this was probably written-in meta-humor). "The Song Under the Credits" was its name, and in the middle of a chorus of "Hey hey ho-ho-ho-ho" the actor left, while the other actors chewed him out for leaving, telling him "We have contractual obligations to finish this song!"

Oct 9th 2017 at 11:33:03 AM

This has 10 Launch votes but I'm not sure if I should do this because it also has 7 Discard votes. Should I wait until the Discard-Launch vote gap gets bigger?

Oct 9th 2017 at 1:10:48 PM

^ You’ll have to wait until the Discard-Launch vote gap gets to 5 hats.

Oct 18th 2017 at 5:56:32 PM

When Marvin Gaye got divorced in 1977, he agreed to give his ex-wife half the proceeds from his next album. The result was Here, My Dear, which was panned by critics and fans alike. Rumors that he intentionally made a bad album that wouldn't sell soon arose.

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