It's articles like this in The New York Times that give me a little hope for Hollywood because at least the studios are finally taking a hard look at their relationships and deals with so-called "top" talent. But first, a story: On a recent trip to New York, actor Russell Crowe, of Gladiator and the upcoming 3:10 to Yuma, was asked by a group of reporters why he had dropped out of a movie he was going to do with director Baz Luhrman for Fox. His answer? Well, let's just say it very succinctly crystallizes one of the major problems Hollywood is facing today -- that if left unchecked, could ultimately ruin something I care a great deal about. That said, what was Crowe's answer? "I do charity work, but I don't do charity work for major studios." How nice. Now don't get me wrong, I believe in getting paid for your work. I also think that actors are in unique position because their performance has the potential to be used and re-used many times. So, I think they should be fairly compensated for their work and for any subsequent use of that work.

But what is fair? Is it fair that an actor like Jim Carrey gets $20 Milion per movie but his recent films like Bruce Almighty and Fun with Dick and Janewere basically flops? Even Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a terrific film with a compelling performance by Carrey, wasn't what you would exactly call a "hit." Someone making decisions at Fox must agree because two of Carrey's recent films, Used Guys and Ripley's Believe it or Not! ended up falling apart over budget (and other) considerations. Or, how about Eddie Murphy? He still gets a huge salary too but is he really worth it? Do his movies like Daddy Day Care and The Haunted Mansion really perform well enough to warrant his salary? I seriously doubt it. And, let's not forget the case of one Mr. Tom Cruise who was recently and unceremoniously let go from his huge contract with Paramount Pictures. I'm sure some of the blame for his deal not being renewed can be attributed to his huge paycheck for films that underperformed like Vanilla Sky and Mission Impossible III -- and the fact that he's probably off his nut (at least according to Sumner Redstone).

Well, it looks like the Hollywood is starting to question the merits of continuing a system that financially rewards talent no matter if their films perform or not, at least according to the Times article. The studio's plan is simple: actors should share in the success or failure of a movie. So, if the movie does well, the actor is compensated well. If the film does poorly, or bombs, the actor shouldn't be paid as much. Plus, studios are also seeking other ways to cut costs -- especially by limiting or ending long-term production deals with stars and their production companies. Obviously, actors and their reps, such as the Screen Actors Guild, are not too happy about these kinds of proposals. So, it remains to be seen if this strategy will pay off for the studios in the long run and at the bottom line. Although, if Russell Crowe's attitude is any indication, the studios have a big struggle ahead of them.
categories Movies, Cinematical