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Lunchtime Poll: What would you do with a $2 Million Tip?

by Nathaniel R

On this day 25 years ago It Could Happen to You was released, a romantic comedy in which a cop (Nicolas Cage) wins the lottery and shares half his fortune with a waitress (Bridget Fonda) who he was unable to tip. The original and far superior title was Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip. That year in its rejected honor, my friends and I would jokingly refer to movies by a single sentence plot rather than titles... Streep Goes White Water Rafting, Vampire Brad Feels Guilt, This Bus Is a Bomb! etc -- shut up, it was funny at the time.

In its honor today, what would you do with a $2 million dollar windfall? The catch is that you have to spend half of it on the movies. Would you invest in films, be a patron for an auteur, gift it to a struggling actor, or other? (After the jump, an Oscar-adjacent list for fun)

Though I haven't seen It Could Happen To You since then and have no idea if it holds up, I was briefly obsessed with Rosie Perez's comic turn as the cop's greedy wife. Loved Rosie so much that she placed on my supporting actress list that year (before The Film Experience existed, I saw fewer movies but still had lists of my own Oscar-alternate ballots.)

Oscar's Supporting Actress List of 1994

  • Rosemary Harris, Tom & Viv
  • Helen Mirren, The Madness of King George
  • Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction
  • Jennifer Tilly, Bullets Over Broadway
  • Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway ★

Nathaniel's Supporting Actress List of 1994 at the time

  • Virna Lisi, Queen Margot
  • Rosie Perez, It Could Happen To You
  • Jennifer Tilly, Bullets Over Broadway
  • Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction
  • Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway ★

But I remember feeling guilty about leaving out Sarah Peirse Heavenly Creatures, Janeane Garofalo Reality Bites, Kristin Scott Thomas Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Claire Danes Little Women (t'was obsessed with My So-Called Life at the time).

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Reader Comments (25)

Honestly, $2 million dollars, today, isn't enough to do much related. Maybe, if you want to fund a quick and dirty horror movie or two or something mostly with character actors, but other than that? No, even a star studded intimate drama is way more than $2 million dollars, and it's too much for just being a "patron of the arts."

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I'd toss it to Jodie Foster, maybe it'll help Flora Plum happen

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Hire a goon to retrieve Oscar statuettes removing the name plate then shipping them to Close.
Locating the surviving b-roll from the original Total Recall.
And finance a gay erotic thriller starring me.

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Claire Danes would have been a very worthy nominee in 1994. She's heartbreaking as Beth.

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterShmeebs

@Peter, I love that idea! Let Flora Plum (finally) happen. (Hell, shouldn't there have been a kickstarter campaign by now?!) Otherwise, gift at least $1 million to a struggling writer or director with meaty, leading roles to give only to actresses of color and/or a certain age (someone like Vanessa Bell Calloway comes immediately to mind).

Man, I miss the glory days when mainstream films had (working) titles like Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip and My Posse Don't Do Homework. Dumb studio execs who reduced them to generic Dangerous Minds, It Could Happen to You, etc. don't deserve to handle even Rosie Perez's (xoxo) shopping bags. (Boy, did she have a marvelous '92-'94 run.)

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Omg Rosie Perez is amazing in this! "Stiff her. Stiff and smell the flowers!"

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermj

What to do with 2 million dollars? I'd pay complete dental treatment to Kirsten Dunst and Keira Knightley. Because they deserve it and because it must be very expensive for rich movie stars.

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFeline Justice

With my million, I'd pay off my mortgage and buy a small apartment for my son.

With my movie-million, I'd donate to the Loew's restoration here in Jersey City (, and also contribute something to the Adrienne Shelly Foundation ( if it's still active (I notice the website hasn't been updated in 3 years).

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Set up an annual bursary for emerging LGBTQ directors/writers from working class backgrounds so they have an income during R&D for new scripts/concepts.

Say 50k per year on salary and 50k on expenses, plus networking/pitch opportunities with investors over the year. Doesn't make the film, but takes the pressure off whilst doing the early prep work.

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

Not being cute, but if adjusting for inflation, that $2,000,000 would be worth nearly $3,500,000 today. With that? Grab a small selection of ten genre directors, give each 250,000, and spend the remaining million creating a lab for them to develop their work. Since genre films by and large sell more tickets, build up the lab from that point forward with new voices and new genres. Perhaps eventually making it into a small studio.

So, I guess, the Blumhouse path.

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

OH MY... I simply must know what you "sentence about the plot as a title" was for Nell. Do tell!

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Could I get a date with Colin Farrell for that two million?

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGlendon

I would spend:
One million to build an animation studio for create my own movies.
$700,000.00 to promote indie movies from unkown or new filmakers
$200,000.00 to create a law that makes the ridiculous translation of titles of foreign films ​​into spanish illegal
$100,000.00 to build a house with a pool and a movie theater included (and invite members and followers of this blog to special functions ; )

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCésar Gaytán

Probably keep some of it to buy Criterion DVD/Blu-Rays, a Blu-Ray player, a vinyl music player, some albums, and stuff I need. The rest, I'd give it to charities (not the fucking Susan G. Komen Foundation).

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Guess I am being selfish but I would use the money to get out of my noisy condo and find a small house that was surrounded by Big trees and lots of nature and have a huge garden, all for some peace and quiet living. However that would not be complete with out getting at least one dog! AND....Yes... I would donate to the Trevor project and SAGE. I'll keep dreaming....

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGay Senior

Glendon -- i think his asking price is wee higher than that.

César -- how kind of you!

July 29, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Put it in the bank. $2 million can barely get you a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

We took for granted this type of movies back in the 90s and now they don't know how to make them anymore.

Love the inclusion of Virna Lisi. Nice quintet. I would add Brooke Smith who totally nails Sonia's monologue in Vanya on 42nd Street.

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Glad to see Peggy Sue mention Brooke Smith. Amazing performance

I'd give the money to film restorers to focus on historical films from and about marginalized people.

July 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I would give some to Dee Rees. I feel like I have just discovered her and I am so impressed. Somebody needs to give her a blockbuster budget.

July 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

well, obviously i'd paypal a lump sum to my favourite film experience...

July 30, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

And finance a gay erotic thriller starring me.....and the Murtada costarring was implied. Nick Davis a perennial costar in my film universe.

July 30, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I miss Bridget Fonda so much.

Her surfer girl, Melanie, is my favorite Tarantino character of all time. She breaks my heart in that scene where she talks to De Niro about the picture of her in Japan.

She was also Supporting Actress worthy for her Lady Macbeth turn in A SIMPLE PLAN.

Come back to us, Bridge!

July 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Crowe

Hire Alfonso Cuaron to direct Glenn Close in Sunset Blvd

July 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

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