Many of us can easily reel off some of the best movies that Hollywood has ever produced, but things get murky and harder to pinpoint when it comes to the other end of the divide. However, one movie that is universally acclaimed as one of the worst movies ever made is The Room and the director behind it is none other than the mysterious Tommy Wiseau who has a net worth of $500,000.
Originally from Poland, Wiseau poured all his passion, money, and time into making the 90-minute melodrama. It was subsequently released in 2003 and became an object of instant ridicule as people derided the unrelated plots, the horrible and immature language, and the punishingly-long sex scenes. More and more bad reviews would follow the movie until it inevitably acquired a cult following. The Room retains this status to date and many continue to agonize over several aspects of the film, including where Wiseau got the millions to make the movie in the first place. He remains tight-lipped about this and continues to reap rewards from his cult film.
Some Have Speculated That Tommy Wiseau Made His Money from Real Estate
Given how awful it was as well as the fact that the whole 90-minute drama took place in one room, one would think that it cost Tommy Wiseau about $14.85 to produce The Room but the reverse is the case. Wiseau sunk in as much as $6 million in making the film a reality. He shot the movie on both film and digital video simultaneously. He also changed the cast and crew not less than three times and took out a “monumentally ugly billboard” for the sake of raising awareness for the movie.
All these efforts eventually culminated in arguably the worst movie of all time but that is not what people are overly concerned with. The pressing question becomes where Tommy Wiseau got the $6 million that he deployed in producing The Room. Some have speculated that he made his wealth from real estate. Wiseau previously had a lucrative business purchasing and renting out large retail spaces in places such as San Francisco and Los Angeles.
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— Tommy Wiseau (@TommyWiseau) May 2, 2021
Others Believe That It Either Came From a Settlement or Illicit Means
Some other people believe that Tommy Wiseau got his fortune from a paid settlement by a Hollywood producer after he (the producer) injured him in a car accident. It is his very good friend and The Room co-star, Greg Sestero, that has suggested this as a possible explanation based on what he (Tommy) told him.
Moving on from that, yet another school of thought has it that Wiseau made his money from criminal means, including stealing, selling drugs, or laundering money for foreign mafia organizations.
Tommy Wiseau Insists That He Made His Fortune From Selling Jackets
The man at the eye of the storm has refuted all the allegations and speculations flying around about his source of wealth; maintaining that he made his money from importing and selling leather jackets. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2008, Wiseau revealed that he ran a profitable business selling leather jackets in the 90s. According to him, the jackets were designed in the U.S. but produced in South Korea. The leather jackets were then imported back to the U.S. where they were sold for a pretty penny. The business generated a decent income but most importantly, Tommy Wiseau saved as much of it as possible and grew an impressive egg nest. It was with this egg nest that he used to produce his disastrous 2003 film, The Room.
Wiseau Made Tens of Millions of Dollars From The Room Despite The Scathing Reviews
Tommy Wiseau’s The Room was so awful that many people wanted to see it for themselves in order to believe it. It, therefore, created a situation whereby the movie performed well at the cinemas despite the terrible reviews. At last count, The Room generated $30 million on a budget of $6 million which meant that Wiseau possibly made as much as $20 million from the movie’s theatrical run.
It is more than a decade since then and the money continues to roll in. The Room’s cult status means that it is screened in several cities every year with Wiseau traveling to each of these screenings. His presence usually sends fans into a frenzy, leading to massive sales of merchandise, DVD, and Blu-Ray copies of the film. It is now estimated that Wiseau makes as much as half a million or a million dollars per annum from these screenings and the associated merch sales.
Tommy Wiseau Had Significant Financial Interest in the 2017 Film, The Disaster Artist
Tommy Wiseau may be synonymous with The Room but that is by no chance his only foray in Hollywood. The filmmaker has directed some other movies and TV series, including The Neighbor and Big Shark. He has also acted in several productions, including Homeless in America, The House That Drips Blood On Alex, Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance, Best F(R)iends, Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and La La Land. The earnings from these gigs may not be so huge but it has nonetheless complemented Tommy Wiseau’s net worth.
Beyond the movies that Tommy Wiseau has featured in or directed, he also made good money from the highly-acclaimed 2017 film, The Disaster Artist. Directed by James Franco, The Disaster Artist chronicles the events and friendship that culminated in the making of Wiseau’s The Room. The movie grossed $29.8 million on a budget of $10 million. It also received several accolades, including an Oscar nomination. Given that The Disaster Artist was based on Wiseau’s real-life story, he was heavily involved in its production. It is not known how much he received for his time but it has been said that he had a significant financial interest in the movie.
The Filmmaker was Fined $700,000 in 2020 For Unproven Copyright Violation Claims
The year 2020 was universally tough on everyone but for Tommy Wiseau, it pinched a little harder as the courts awarded a steep fine of $700,000 against him. The fine stemmed from a lawsuit that he had instituted in 2017 alleging that three filmmakers, who were planning to release a documentary about him and the making of his infamous movie, were violating his copyright. It was Wiseau’s belief that their use of clips from his movie constituted copyright violation. He also asserted that their revelations about his polish origins offended his privacy.
The lawsuit would drag on for three years during which the filmmakers in question were barred from dropping their documentary titled Room Full of Spoons. They later got the victory at the end of the day as the judge sided with them. The judge described Wiseau’s actions as an oppressive and outrageous thing that he did to prevent the release of a documentary that he disliked. He also pointed out that he (Wiseau) brought the suit so that the release of the documentary would not detract from the release of The Disaster Artist which he had invested in. The judge, therefore, ordered Wiseau to pay $500,000 to the documentary makers for loss of compensation as well as an additional $200,000 in punitive damages.