More on falling pay for movie stars

It's not just the WSJ story I linked in the Morning Buzz. Kim Masters at The Daily Beast also writes today about Hollywood squeezing stars to take less money. Masters, the new host of The Business on KCRW, pegs the story to Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke getting about $400,000 each — instead of seven figures — for "Iron Man 2."

What the revolution in technology had started, the economy has hurried right along. After years of impotent promises to choke off rich deals with talent, the studios are finally making it happen. They’re hammering on star salaries and perks like private jets, too. “They’ve wanted to go in this direction for a long time and the global financial crisis has given them the lever to do it,” says one veteran talent representative.....
These changes may cheer up ordinary citizens who can’t understand why a star ever got millions to be in a movie in the first place. But the fact that the studios are finally laying down the law also illustrates the strains they are under as they try to crank out expensive popular entertainment when the model is collapsing. Stars in the middle range—famous names but something well short of, say, Will Smith--are facing the toughest battles. “The studios are going out to actors who have been $10 million players and saying, `Here’s $5 million.’ Here’s two and a half,” says a top agent. “It’s like there are no rules.”

If an actor balks at the deal, the studios say they will move to another choice immediately. “They’re not fucking around,” says the talent representative. “They know exactly who that next person is. Sometimes they’ll tell you.”

That clearly seems to have been the case with Johansson and Rourke, says an agent who doesn’t represent either actor. “On certain movies, they feel like whoever they put in a part is fine. Once they lock down Robert Downey, Jr., on Iron Man 2, everything else is fine. I don’t think they give a shit if it’s Mickey Rourke or Scarlett Johansson.”

Also in Hollywood: Bad decisions, not the economy, did in the Motion Picture Country Home, says The Wrap.

More by Kevin Roderick:
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