they heard me…

Submitted by Amisha Upadhyaya

benjiesAs if in a direct follow up to what I was writing about stars’ and their unmitigated power to make a movie, Patrick Goldstein had an article in his column in The LA Times, The Big Picture, on the downsizing of stars’ salaries:  “Hollywood Gets Tough on Talent.”

Excerpt:  In Hollywood the new mantra is: “cash break zero.” Instead of paying out first-dollar gross, where top talent start collecting cash…from the very first box-office receipts, the studios are now constructing deals where the talent participates in the profits from a film only after the studio has recouped both its production and marketing costs. The new arrangement can still lead to huge windfalls — in part because the studios are now giving top talent a far bigger piece of the home video take than they could get before. But the talent only reaps the rewards if they are willing to bet on themselves and can deliver a hit.

My goodness.  Rewarding people only if they come through. Hollywood might as well join Detroit in its hard knocks.

Why this frugality?

  1. Bad economy means less investing, means lower budgets. The below-the-line are fixed costs no one wants to mess with in a budget. So if budgets need to get slashed, it’s the talents’ salaries taking the hit first.
  2. DVD revenues plummeting. Five years ago, there used to be plenty of profit to go around. Now: not so much. The studios gotta get theirs first when there’s a chance there won’t be any.
  3. Writers strike gave studios time to think, which is never good to let the numbers men have time to really go through the numbers.

It’s not like the people reading this will be the ones complaining that they’re getting $5mill instead of 10.  None of this means shit to 90% of the WGA, DGA or SAG, but who knows. Maybe now there will be room for stories rather than celebs (Hangover had none). Maybe the cheapie but great talent can get hired. Always a silver lining.

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