Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Are Hollywood Actors Over-Paid?
Are Hollywood actors over-paid? This is a question that has been on my mind ever since I read this article yesterday from Deadline Hollywood about the contract squabbles going on over at Marvel Studios right now involving The Avengers 2 and its cast.
It's been widely reported that Robert Downey, Jr., made over $50 million off The Avengers alone, and supposedly that didn't sit well with every cast member, with certain of the main cast members getting paid as low as $200,000, compared to Downey's astronomical sum (though the article never says who). As per usual in Hollywood, everyone wants an equally-sized slice of the pie and as contract negotiations are just now beginning for The Avengers 2, the word is that these negotiations are getting fairly heated in many quarters, with many of the stars rallying behind Robert Downey, Jr., and asking for more and more money, or they walk. Is it just me or are actors just big prima donnas nowadays?
Actor Chris Hemsworth, who portrays Thor, is quoted as saying, "Go ahead," when the idea of recasting was brought up by Marvel if the negotiations were to break down, with Deadline's article stating, "I hear Hemsworth especially wasn't anxious to go back into that arduous diet and training regimen and subsist primarily on egg whites." Uh, you play Thor, suck it up. And while I don't know if Hemsworth was the actor to receive only $200,000 or not, for the sake of the argument, let's say he was. $200,000 is more money than most average Americans make in three or four years, so pardon me if I don't feel sympathy for your getting in excellent physical shape with Hollywood trainers when so many Average Joe's are struggling with their weight and health issues, while still getting a payday for five to six months worth of work that exceeds what many make in four years.
Personally, I do feel it's unfair that one actor gets payed $50 million, when an actor who has equal billing only gets $200,000, but where do you draw the line? You can't pay all of the actors $50 million. Common sense would just say pay all of the main cast members the same salary, especially in an ensemble film like this, but then when you have Robert Downey, Jr., in your movie, he automatically wants more money than everyone else because he's a "bigger" star. The annoyance here is that these actors feel they're irreplaceable, as is evidenced by Hemsworth's statement of saying, "Go ahead," in regards to Thor being recast. While it is true that there would probably be a backlash in the fan community if Iron Man or Thor were recast, if there is anything that the multiple incarnations of Batman, Superman, and now Spider-Man, have proven, is that audiences and fans alike will embrace new actors in these iconic roles as long as it's done well.
I think what frustrates me so much about this side of Hollywood, is that Hollywood actors are getting paid more money than I've ever seen in my life to do something that I would gladly do for $200,000. I want to make movies not for the money (though I wouldn't complain if someone offered it to me), but because I love movies and it's my passion. While film is a business, and it is how I plan to make a living in the future, I just wonder why these actors are sitting here whining and griping about how many millions of dollars they get paid to have fun and do what they're passionate about? You know how many people out there hate their jobs and wish they could be doing what they love to do? I'm assuming that if you became an actor, you became one because it's what you love doing, so why are you acting like such a diva, when everyday you get to drive home in one of your five Mercedes and sleep in one of your three mansions you own just for tax purposes?
The bottom line here is, first it was wrong for Marvel to pay the actors such differing salaries when they all received equal billing, but secondly, and probably most importantly, actor salaries for movies are just getting wildly out of control. What Robert Downey, Jr., got paid for The Avengers was more money than most movies made in any given year cost to make. That is just flat-out ridiculous. I don't care who you are, how famous you are, or how important your participation is to the success of the film. No one, not even a director like Steven Spielberg, deserves a $50 million payday for just one movie. I mean, think about it, The Avengers had a budget of $220 million according to boxofficemojo.com, and $50 million of that went to pay one actor? From a business standpoint, that's ridiculous. I don't know how much of that budget went to pay the actors, but it's safe to assume that it was at least $70 million or more, considering the star power the film had. That means the actual production itself only cost around $100-150 million. This is why I think actor salaries are out of control.
Say you have an ensemble movie with seven characters with equal billing and you do pay all seven the same salary of $50 million. That's $350 million! Your movie is already in the red before it even gets made, this is why actor salaries are ridiculous and need to be more reasonable, to where one star isn't getting payed astronomical amounts, while another is getting very little in comparison (though, that is debatable to your everyday person). Personally, I feel $5 million for a leading role in a big blockbuster like The Avengers is reasonable. That would first off cut the amount of money spent on the actors almost in half, and would allocate more money for the production to be of a higher quality and be that much better of a movie. The challenge is getting actors who are accustomed to astronomically high paydays to agree to a lower pay. Thing is, though, can anyone seriously tell me if someone like Robert Downey, Jr., will ever live long enough to spend all of the money he probably has made just from the past five years of acting alone? It's just flat-out insane what actors are being paid, and I think Hollywood needs to stop catering to the whims of the actors and pay salaries that are reasonable and fair, and not clearly showing favoritism towards one actor over the other.
As for right now, we'll see where these negotiations go. Currently the only cast member signed up for The Avengers 2 is Chris Evans, who plays Captain America. With recent reports that Marvel will be introducing new heroes in the form of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in The Avengers 2, it's entirely possible that Marvel and writer/director Joss Whedon are preparing for the possibility of certain characters not reappearing in The Avengers 2. Even so, this type of stuff almost always happens with big budget sequels in Hollywood. I am willing to bet every actor from the first film will be back, so if you're a fan of The Avengers, I see no need to worry. The franchise is so big, I personally don't see Marvel severing ties with actors, even though they have done it before with Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, recasting him for The Avengers with Mark Ruffalo instead. Even still, I think the actors will recognize that these films are once in a lifetime career opportunities and they wont let them go to waste.