One possible reason Sony's Rudin ragged on Jolie in email

Angelina Jolie
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Angelina Jolie

One of the more salacious items from the Sony hacking case is a set of emails between movie producer Scott Rudin and Sony's co-chair, Amy Pascal, about Angelina Jolie's possible involvement in ruining one of Rudin's films. Rudin specifically wanted director David Fincher to work on his "Jobs" biopic, but Jolie was pulling Fincher away to work on her "Cleopatra" movie. Rudin called Jolie "a minimally talented spoiled brat" while threatening Pascal in an effort to keep Fincher on "Jobs."

If that's too much to keep straight, here's a list of the major players again:

Amy Pascal, Sony co-chair
Scott Rudin, "Jobs" producer
Angelina Jolie, "Cleopatra" star
David Fincher, director wanted by both Rudin and Jolie

Make no mistake: Not every player in the movie business is created equal. Some have bigger drawing power than others. So among these specific characters, who would actually move the needle on box-office revenue? For that, we turn to Bruce Nash, who runs the data-driven site The Numbers, "where data and the movie business meet."

Nash's data include his "Bankability Index," a way of specifically answering the question: How much does each person add in value to a film? If Hollywood investors thought like Wall Street, Nash's method would be one way of calculating exactly how much an actor is worth, financially, to a movie.

His math involves something called graph analysis: Taking together every pair of people working together on every movie, considering the worldwide box-office gross, and then figuring out how much each individual contributed to the movie's value. His analysis carries industry weight, as it's the trusted go-to data source for many movie financiers.

David Fincher is worth $10 million per movie

"Fincher is the key piece in the puzzle," said Nash. According to his data, Fincher brings more average value to a film than either Jolie or Rudin:

$10.34 million—David Fincher
$8.11 million—Angelina Jolie
$4.97 million—Scott Rudin

Fincher and Jolie both rank in Nash's top 100 most valuable movie industry players; Rudin falls outside of that. Nash reminds us that actors and producers can be involved in multiple movies per year, but for the director, "it's a two-year process," and "there are only 15-20 real A-list directors out there. If you have one lined up for a film, and you might lose him, that might hurt tremendously the prospects for the film—perhaps more than any other person involved."

"It's hard to imagine anybody else playing Cleopatra" -Bruce Nash, founder, the-numbers.com

It's not surprising then that Rudin would be so adamant that Fincher stay on his "Jobs" project, and went to great lengths to keep him. Another way to view the data is that Rudin is the least valuable of these three players, thus Rudin needed Fincher more than Jolie did, since Jolie can bring more money to a movie by herself than Rudin could.

According to Nash, actors and directors take up the largest number of spots in the top 100 most valuable movie industry people, with producers not having the same pull.

Here's a full breakdown of the top 100 (22 of whom are identified as a free preview on Nash's website):

- 18 Actors/actresses
- 17 Directors
- 14 Executive producers
- 14 Screenwriters
- 12 Producers
- 7 Editors
- 4 Art directors
- 4 Production/set designers
- 3 Composers
- 2 Story/character creators
- 2 Sound engineers
- 2 Cinematographers
- 1 Costume designer

It's worth noting that Nash's numbers represent the average value per film, but different projects can still be valued differently. A large franchise or major tent-pole movie might see more value attributed to the actor. In that case, somebody like Jolie could be worth $15 million in a bigger feature, but just $1 million in a smaller film—bringing her average to $8 million.

As far as why Fincher might want to direct Jolie, Nash says "among A-list actresses, it's hard to imagine anybody else playing Cleopatra."