The very existence of the Entourage movie has been met with a persistent, entirely fair question: why? Why on Earth does this TV show get a follow-up movie, when so many other great TV shows — even big, hit TV shows — are left to languish? What made it so necessary to check in with Vincent Chase and his pals all over again, especially when the series ended on a note that didn't exactly scream "suspense!"? (Heck, every episode of the series ended this way.)
The answer, as always, is that somebody somewhere thinks an Entourage movie will make money, and thus it is allowed to exist. But the combination of factors that ultimately foisted this movie upon the world is pretty unique — and essentially suited only to Entourage.
So here, arranged from most to least likely, are nine possible reasons somebody made an Entourage movie and released it to theaters.
1) The Sex and the City movie made a whole lot of money
When the first Sex and the City movie raked in over $57 million in its opening weekend back in 2008, many commentators viewed its success as a sign that Hollywood was underserving women, that there was a whole market out there that wanted to be pandered to as surely as Hollywood had mastered pandering to men.
What Hollywood took from that film's success was, "Hey, maybe we should make an Entourage movie!"
The two properties have always been served up as flip sides of the same coin, with each one peddling stereotypically gendered fantasies of conspicuous consumption on opposite coasts. So there was a certain amount of logic to this notion. But Sex and the City was a much, much better show than Entourage (even if the films made from Sex and the City were terrible and hurt the series' reputation), and, more importantly, it was much more successful.
When Sex and the City concluded in 2004, 10.6 million viewers bid it farewell, compared with only 2.6 million viewers who came out to say goodbye to Entourage in 2011. Granted, the two shows aired in completely different television landscapes, but even at its height, Entourage averaged around 3 million viewers — nowhere near Carrie Bradshaw.
So there has to be more to it than that.
2) Entourage was still relatively popular when it ended
Yeah, those 3 million viewers are a drop in the bucket compared with Sex and the City's viewership, but HBO hasn't launched a comedy that's come close to drawing that many eyeballs since Vince and the gang left the air. Part of the reason for that is the erosion of the television viewing audience, but it's important to note that the Entourage audience was remarkably consistent and never fell too far from its viewership highs.
Thus, if you make a movie that's guaranteed to attract the core Entourage fan base, you can essentially budget the film to guarantee profit, which is exactly what Warner Brothers did. (More on this in a moment.)
3) Hollywood was just wild about Entourage
Now that the show has become a walking punchline for the way it evokes the bro-tastic heights of the early 2000s, it's easy to forget, but this was a series that garnered 14 Golden Globe nominations and 26 Emmy nominations over the course of its run. It became a way to show off a bit in Hollywood, and it reflected the city as it wanted to be seen.
Writes Seth Abramovitch in the essential Hollywood Reporter history of the making of the film:
Every character was a carbon copy of an industry original. Vincent was loosely based on executive producer (and movie star) Mark Wahlberg. Ari Gold, the sharky agent played by Jeremy Piven, was not-so-loosely based on Wahlberg's agent, WME's Ari Emanuel. Kevin Dillon, who played Johnny "Drama" Chase, Vincent's less successful brother, himself is the sibling of a more successful star (that'd be Matt). Every week, the show featured scenes set at trendy Beverly Hills eateries, plot points torn from the trades and more industry name-dropping than one could overhear at e. baldi during lunch hour. Getting name-checked on Entourage became the ultimate professional accolade, way cooler than a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Essentially, Hollywood was primed to embrace more Entourage adventures in a way it wouldn't be for, say, a feature-length Weeds movie (to name a roughly contemporaneous cable comedy).
4) Warner Brothers makes lots of movies
The studio's entire strategy seems to be to produce as many movies as possible, at as many budget levels as possible, in hopes that enough of them will turn profits to keep the ledgers in the black. If Disney is in the business of making huge franchise movies like the Marvel films and the new Star Wars movies, then Warners buys in bulk, at all budgetary tiers. Just last week, for instance, it launched disaster movie San Andreas.
And since Entourage was owned by HBO, a corporate cousin of Warner Brothers, the odds were much higher that the film would come into being than they were for, say, an Arrested Development movie — no matter how much Mitchell Hurwitz, the creator of that series, might want one. Arrested Development is a Fox property, and 20th Century Fox hasn't traditionally been as willing to flood the marketplace with movie after movie.
5) The film was modestly budgeted
At just $30 million, the film's budget was small enough that the movie would have to be an outright and utter flop to not make money. Obviously, there's a chance of that happening, but it seems slim. Even an extremely modest return should make a little profit.
6) Entourage is aimed at Hollywood's most beloved audience: young guys
By and large, the domestic movie industry is aimed at teenage and 20-something guys, who are the most easily attracted movie customers. And who was Entourage always intended to be a fantasy for? You guessed it. That's an advantage a lot of other properties don't have.
7) The entire cast could be convinced to do it
The Hollywood Reporter article digs into the long, surprisingly complicated negotiations to get all of the show's cast members in the same film, attempts that eventually culminated in the studio paying Piven (whose character was the show's most iconic) more than the other four main cast members, something that caused some degree of acrimony.
Salary negotiations also stalled the project for months, and there were rumors of acrimony among the cast, particularly over how much Piven, 49, the only established star on the series, was being offered. Some of that strife leaked into the press — asked in October 2013 when an Entourage movie would begin shooting, Wahlberg told TMZ, "As soon as them guys stop being so greedy" — and spilled onto social media. "I will sign any deal that gives ALL the boys an opportunity to share in the upside of success EQUALLY," Grenier fired back at Wahlberg on Instagram.
In the end, a deal was struck that, according to sources, paid Piven about $5 million and each of the other actors more than $2 million (plus backend). "It was just a matter of ironing out details," Grenier tells THR. "The previous deal for the show was over, so we all had the right to negotiate however we wanted for the movie." And the way Grenier and the other actors (minus Piven) — none of whom had broken out beyond their Entourage roles — wanted to negotiate was as a team, which TV stars sometimes do but is more of a rarity in the film world. "We recognized that we had more leverage when we were aligned," adds Grenier.
Needless to say, without Piven, the project likely wouldn't have happened. With him (and with the other cast members on board), it became almost a certainty that it would.
8) Mark Wahlberg kept bugging Entourage creator Doug Ellin to do it
Wahlberg, the series' executive producer whose life served as a rough inspiration for the show, apparently kept accosting series creator and showrunner Ellin about doing a movie.
In real Hollywood, Ellin's film had problems of its own. For starters, the 47-year-old writer-director was having trouble pounding out a story despite nagging phone calls from Wahlberg. "He called me every few months and said, 'Where's the script?'" says Ellin.
Would that all TV shows that hope to become movies had Mark Wahlberg in their corner.
9) Ellin was going through a divorce
This might sound like a joke, but in Drew Magary's GQ profile of the cast and creator of the show, Ellin himself brings up this idea.
Entourage is a mighty river from which many brands flow, which makes it rare and extremely valuable. It's valuable to Grenier, who's trying to get a small documentary off the ground about whales. ... It's valuable to [Jerry] Ferrara, [who plays Turtle,] who got in fighting shape to play boxer Arturo Gatti but hasn't been able to get the movie made yet. ("The scary thing is that I'm kind of getting older now. I'm kind of Gatti past his prime.") It's valuable to [Kevin] Connolly, [who plays Vince's manager, Eric,] who's producing and starring in a Fox pilot. It's valuable for Dillon, because it finances his lifestyle of being super nice and just kinda chilling out. And it's especially valuable to Ellin, who just went through a rough divorce.
"I mean, getting divorced—I just gave it all away," he tells me at the bar. "When you go through a divorce, you really start lookin' at every fuckin' dollar, you know?"
So there you have it, everybody. Viva la Entourage!