Monday, 16 November 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #396: A-List?

Welcome to the show folks...

A tip of my urban sombrero to reader Nate, who passed on this link to an article by Reuters, which says that Hollywood's finally starting to acknowledge something that I've been saying since the beginning of this blog.

Basically it says that the studios are realizing that the "A-List" stars that they've been lavishing multi-gazillion dollar salaries are not worth the money, and the studios are going to do something about it.

Well no shit Sherlock.

But the fact that it took a global near economic collapse, after years (if not decades) of under-performing stars shows a fundamental flaw in the way the movie business works.

That flaw is glamor.

The entertainment industry, and those in the public eye, get a hell of a lot more attention than they deserve. This attention, called glamor, hails them as being the most beautiful, talented, charismatic...yadda, yadda, in the world, and that they are somehow above the mere mortals who buy the tickets.

The problem is that glamor is an illusion.

The people that run Hollywood live in a world comprised entirely of this illusion. They are surrounded by people that either work for them, want to work for them, or are seeking some sort of grace and favor, all they hear about the people they are investing tens of millions with are the fawning pseudo coverage of the entertainment press. So they reckon that they must be important and have a large audience.

Only that's not exactly true.

If it was true then Nicole Kidman's career wouldn't the black hole that it is, and George Clooney would be able to carry a film without major co-stars or the Coen Bros. carrying him. If you go by the entertainment press, they're the biggest stars of all time, but how many people are actually willing to spend money to see them.

If it was
30 Rock and Gossip Girl would be tied for #1 in the ratings, because they get loads of attention in the media, attention way beyond their ability to attract substantial numbers of viewers.

One of the silver linings in the total collapse of the global economy is that the investors who invest in movies are now asking for something more substantial than the tax write-offs the studios have been delivering, and they're forcing the studios to tear off the veil over their eyes and accept some reality.

So what should they do?

1. Get star salaries under control. Basically, no star is worth $15-$25 million a picture unless they can somehow guarantee a minimum $500 million box office take every single time. Because those salaries add up, and make even popular films unprofitable. Now I think actors should be well paid, they do make an important contribution, but if they can't live on a max $5 million a picture and a piece of the action, then they should solve those problems before becoming a movie star.

2. Studios should stop playing silly buggers with the money. There was a time when people could have a piece of the net profits for a picture, and guess what, they'd get it. The shady accounting is the main reason why the big names demand big money up front, because they're expecting to get screwed out the back end. Stop the screwing. If you owe money, pay it.

Basically, I'm telling the movie business to accept market forces. Trim the dead weights, lower costs, widen profit margins, and make things better not only for the studios, but for the actors still capable of selling tickets.

If you have any other suggestions leave them in the comments.


  1. IN my opinion while I LOVE movies, I pretty much HATE Hollywood. Lately I have not seen a film sine Dark Knight that I captured my immagination and made me WANT to see it at all costs. Before that it was the LOTR films.

    Right now I am more looking forward to the release of Mass Effect 2 for Xbox 360 than any film of late.

    2012 looks like over blown crap as well as Avatar. Right know the best quality Scifi is on video game consoles not on the small or silver screen.

  2. Once again, I'm in agreement. Internet piracy being what it is, Actors shouldn't be paid so large an advance. Or, if anything, it should be treated as a true advance, and come from the royalties that they make off the movie.

    I would have no problem with the $25 million advanced, so long as their royalty incomes would cover it. But there is something sad about a $25 Mil payment, and the only make 300,000 off of royalties because the picture sells slow.