Thursday, 2 April 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #263: It Begins

Hollywood is abuzz about a new trend that's rocking the industry.

Haggling over salaries. (h/t The Wrap)

Actors who would normally be paid in the high seven figures for major franchise films, are now getting around the mid to high six figures.

A recent case (& cheap excuse for a cheesecake pic) is actress Scarlett Johansson who is up for a part in
Iron Man 2, and is getting around $400,000 for the picture when she'd normally land a few million. Even Julia Roberts is feeling the pinch, getting only $15 million for her next picture, after getting $20 million for her recent pic Duplicity, and the studio is feeling like they're paying too much and regrets making the deal. (Especially after seeing Duplicity's box-office take)

This has been a long time coming. Look at the math:

Bad studio business practices have made everything overly complicated, and forced actors with any track record to demand millions in up front salaries, and those with any serious clout to demand what are called "dollar one gross" deals. That means that they can get anywhere up to 10%-15% of the box-office take from the very first dollar that changes hands. This causes production costs to skyrocket, and in pictures with major stars, profit margins to shrink, and even disappear.

Add the fact that the majority of Hollywood's "movie stars" couldn't sell seats on lifeboats on the Lusitania, and you have all the ingredients for a major disaster that could sink the entire industry. Think about it for a minute. Scarlett's a beautiful woman, but while she may sell magazines, she can't really sell tickets. She's only been in 1 movie that came close to a $100 million gross, and even then she was a small part of a large ensemble. And most films starring her actually lost money, a lot of money, and some barely covered her normal salary.

Well, the studios aren't going to take it anymore. They are going to start paying stars what they believe they are worth.

Now I'm not one to toot my own horn, but I did compose a nifty little formula to measure star power. I'll accept a modest percentage of the money saved by using my formula, I'm not greedy.

But back to the main topic of this post. I don't see this trend in thriftiness ending anytime soon, so I have a few suggestions for stars to survive this crisis.

1. Live within your means. That means renting an Airbus 380 to fly 200 of your closest friends to a private party on an island you've rented every weekend, is probably not a good idea. Try living in the real world, and not one of excessive fantasy.

2. Save your money. Yep, nothing beats a good old fashioned savings account, maybe a nice Roth IRA, and a diversified stock portfolio to prevent you from spending your old age doing auditions for porn, and not getting the part.

3. Do at least some movies people want to see. Oscar whoring won't put the ducats in the buckets, so you're going to have to buckle down, and work for a living.

4. Embrace the audience. Do something to increase your appeal to the general audience, it could be something as simple as doing a charity event that doesn't involve giving yourself an award, and possibly for something that affects real people, like raising money for curing a disease. And you could also avoid doing things like calling people who don't vote the way you vote "Nazis" while you're hugging a dictator that hangs people for being gay.

You see, I do more than complain here, I try to be helpful.

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