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'Hangover 3' stars could get $15 million each

\"Hangover 2\" won't be the last of the series.
\"Hangover 2\" won't be the last of the series.Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. is going to pay a hefty bar tab to get another "Hangover."

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Dealmaking on the studio’s third installment in the raunchy comedy franchise is wrapping up after dragging on for months due in part to the salary demands of its three stars. Sources close to the negotiations say Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms are asking for $15 million each (against backend) to reprise their roles, and they now are likely to get it.

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That’s a big raise from 2009’s "The Hangover," which was made for about $35 million and paid the headliners under $1 million each (Cooper made the most because he had the biggest name recognition at the time). When the R-rated bachelor-party comedy unexpectedly grossed $467 million worldwide, the studio found itself without talent deals for a sequel. Negotiations were heated for "The Hangover Part II," released last May, with the three principals each scoring around $5 million, according to a source, plus back-end compensation that raised their haul into the mid-teens (and counting) when the movie grossed $581 million worldwide.

For the third film, the lead actors, all represented in negotiations by CAA (with agent Jason Heyman taking the lead) and are presenting a united front. (In fact, CAA also reps writer-director Todd Phillips and writer Craig Mazin.)

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Warners hopes the next film, a Los Angeles-based story that will deviate from the forgotten-debauchery formula of the first movies, can shoot this summer and be ready for a Memorial Day 2013 release.

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That would be great news for Warners, which is saying goodbye to two of its major franchises—"Harry Potter," the final installment of which opened last July, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, which the director says will end with this July’s "The Dark Knight Rises." In addition, two movies that were on the fast-track for high-profile releases in 2013— "Akira" and "Arthur & Lancelot"—have been put on hold as the studio tries to reconcile budgetary issues. All of which increases the urgency to put a third "Hangover" on the fast track.

 “It’ll happen,” says one insider. “It’s a proven commodity, which is rare these days.”

Warner Bros. and CAA declined to comment.

"Hangover 2" was pretty poorly reviewed. Did you think it was funny? Can a third movie work, or is it just a desperate money grab at this point? Tell us on Facebook.

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