Filipino-American actor Dante Basco, best known for his role as Rufio in the 1991 Steven Spielberg film Hook and the voice of Prince Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender, shares with his fans on TikTok the amount he gets from royalties in a game he calls “Residual check lottery.”
First, what are residual checks?
In his “Residual check lottery” videos, Basco explains that an actor gets these checks as compensation for films, TV or radio shows he or she did in the past that are being rerun on TV, sold to syndication or streamed online.
As sweet as it seems that payoff doesn’t stop at the box office for some actors, not everyone gets these royalties, especially those who are not part of unions like SAG-AFTRA or Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, where Basco is a part of.
Actor unions like SAG-AFTRA administers the residuals and calculates the amount based on many variables like the amount of the initial payment to the actors or the type of production.
Those who reportedly get huge residual payouts include the main cast of iconic sitcom Friends, who each gets an estimated $20 million (P1 billion) per year according to a USA Today report. Ray Romano, star of Everybody Loves Raymond, can earn up to $18 million (P921 million) a year just on residuals according to Forbes and Vanity Fair.
Basco, now in his 40s with a filmography that spans three decades, does not get millions from his residual checks but he makes it fun and exciting for fans whenever he does his residual paycheck lottery.
In his "Residual checks lottery" videos, he first gets a stack of residual checks in envelopes (they are sometimes mailed at once, Basco says), picks a random envelope, opens it and reads where the check came from.
He then tells a quick backstory of his character in the film or TV show (from the '80s, '90s or 2000s) and proceeds to play an episode of it, which brings nostalgia to fans.
“I always judge these checks by how much we can have for dinner. Sometimes it’s Taco Bell, some nights, it’s steak and lobster,” Basco explains in his videos.
In one of his videos, he opens a check from Walt Disney Pictures for his appearance in two episodes of the show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, which aired in 2005. When Basco opened the check, he said he got a “whopping” $1.17 (P60) before taxes and in total, he got 73 cents (P37).
“I can’t eat anything with that… maybe I can get a soda?” Basco said.
Some in the comments section even joked that the cost of mailing the check is more than the amount of what he actually got.
In another video, Basco opens a random check that was from the show Entourage, where he played a character named Fukijama in one episode in 2006. His grand total? Some 54 cents or P27 after taxes.
But it’s not all gloom for Basco’s residual checks as he also receives relatively bigger payouts.
On Christmas Day, he picked from his stash a check from the Avatar: The Last Airbender, where he voiced the character Prince Zuko and other characters in the animated series for 49 episodes from 2005 to 2008.
Basco initially dished out that Netflix, which currently carries The Last Airbender series, “does not pay well on residuals” but he was pleasantly surprised that for one episode, he got a total of $191.92 or P9,840.
In another video, he revealed he received a total of $355.67 (P18,300) for a role in the Warner Brothers Pictures film Take the Lead in 2006, where he starred alongside Antonio Banderas.
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His residual checks lottery videos garner hundreds of thousands of views, with delighted fans reminiscing about Dante’s characters, most especially in Hook and The Last Airbender.
Basco is currently on tour for his film The Fabulous Filipino Brothers, which he stars with his real-life brothers Derek, Dionysio and Darion, and is narrated by his sister Arianna.
The film, which made its world premiere at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and also stars Solenn Heussaff and Tirso Cruz III, is Basco’s directorial debut.
To see more of Dante Basco’s “Residual Check Lottery,” follow him on TikTok @dante.