Thursday, 11 September 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #165: Big Pay-Offs Low Pay-Back

Business magazine released their list of the 10 most overpaid Hollywood stars, and the list really isn't surprising. For those too lazy to click the link here's a summary:
  1. Nicole Kidman- every $1 in salary earns $1 in gross box office.
  2. Jennifer Garner- every $1 in salary earns $3.60 in gross box office.
  3. Tom Cruise- every $1 in salary earns $4.00 in gross box office.
  4. Cameron Diaz- every $1 in salary earns $4.00 in gross box office.
  5. Jennifer Lopez- every $1 in salary earns $4.10 in gross box office.
  6. Jim Carrey- every $1 in salary earns $4.11 in gross box office.
  7. Nicholas Cage- every $1 in salary earns $4.16 in gross box office.
  8. Drew Barrymore- every $1 in salary earns $4.38 in gross box office.
  9. Will Ferrell- every $1 in salary earns $4.67 in gross box office.
  10. Cate Blanchett- every $1 in salary earns $4.97 in gross box office.
Now there are many reasons for these actors to be both overpaid, and under-performing in the field of ticket sales.

The story behind Nicole Kidman's status as the current queen of the overpaid, illustrates some of the problems Hollywood has when it comes to determining star power. She's a beautiful woman, at least she was before the botox froze her face into a plastic mask. She has some actual talent that's visible when she's in the right film, she's a regular on magazine covers and entertainment themed TV shows, and she even won an Academy Award.

By all that passes as logic in Hollywood, she should be bigger than sliced bread, but in reality, is the stardom equivalent of New Coke.

So why doesn't Hollywood see that she'd be unable to sell tickets to a bunker during a nuclear war?

Because Hollywood has become so isolated from the great unwashed masses known as the audience, they honestly think that all the publicity she gets should translate into ticket sales.

Hollywood doesn't realize that the publicity machine that puts her in tabloids as regularly as clockwork affects Hollywood the most and the audience the least. And while some folks may buy a magazine with her on the cover, it's because they like the way she dresses, revel in the melodramatic inequities of her personal life, but not because they want to pay good money to spend two hours with her.

But Hollywood keeps trying, paying her more and more money, for films that make less and less money, fulfilling the classical definition of madness to a "T." Their logic, formed in the isolated bubble of Hollywood hype, commands them to squander ever-growing millions on her, not realizing that outside the bubble, she's a perfume ad, not a movie star.

Other stars on the list are coasting on past successes, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Jim Carrey, and Drew Barrymore, not realizing that the glory days are probably behind them if they don't pull off a major crowd pleaser, and soon.

Others, Jennifer Garner, and Will Ferrell, are relatively new to the movie-stardom game, and Hollywood's obsession with what they percieve to be "new" and "hot" mistranslates a few early successes within very narrow genres, into some sort of all around appeal.

And then you have the Nicolas Cage/Cate Blanchett conundrum. Both have appeared in hugely successful franchises, but take the spaces between the franchise money-makers with slightly more off-beat, and occassionally off putting fare.

What do I suggest?

Well, I would suggest a little logic when determining star salaries. Don't just go by the quality of their agent's parking space, or the numbers of magazine covers they land, they don't translate into boffo box-office. They only sell Hollywood to Hollywood, and extremely rarely do they play in Peoria.

Also these bloated star salaries are part and parcel with the Self-Fulfilling Idiocy that's put the entertainment industry in its current death spiral. The studios screw people out of profits, salaries go up, way beyond anything rational, costs of production go up, audiences have actors they don't want to see foisted upon them, ticket sales go down, and so do real profits.

So strike a blow for rationalism, stop the screwing, and pay the so-called A-List something in relation to their actual worth.

1 comment:

  1. A big problem too is that when these stars get overexposed through tabloids, they become too familiar and less glamorous. First, you see them all the time, so seeing them is not a rare event anymore. Will Smith limits the tabloid access to him and doesn't pimp himself out for publicity unless he's shooting a movie, so if you want your will Smith fix you have to go to one of his movies to get it. For people like Pitt and Jolie, why spend $12 to see them in a movie when you can see them on cable gossip shows, gossip blogs and tabloid mags nonstop? Second, the tabloids deglamorize them too much. You see them taking their kids to school, shopping for groceries, walking around without makeup, getting their hair makes them too relatable. They don't seem like royalty or above people anymore. The "they're just like us" mentality that has made them relatable to regular folks hurts them in the box office. If they're really just like us, it lessens our motivation to spend money to see them in movies. Being "just like us" takes away from the glamor.