Many might not know, but Hollywood stars are actually paid a lot of money to act in their movies. For example, the studios often fork out millions of dollars to actors to portray major characters in blockbuster films. It’s basically because people enjoy watching famous actors on the big screen and being able to relate to their characters (or perhaps, even be them). But what are the financial terms of this Hollywood deal? Let’s take a look.
The Biggest Films To Date
It’s been nearly a century since Hollywood first started flourishing, and it continues to grow every year. Hollywood churns out more films than ever before, with sequels and prequels constantly upping the ante in terms of production values and casting.
According to the latest figures from the studios and distribution companies, there were 364 feature films released in the US in 2019. That’s a lot of movies, and there were plenty to choose from with a massive array of blockbuster, franchise, and independent films. It also marks the first time in history that more movies were released than any other year. Before 2019, the previous record holder was 2018, with 363 films released.
The studios and distributors make a fortune off these releases, having to pay high upfront fees to the actors and producers as well as making vast amounts of money from box office sales and video on demand. It’s a lucrative business model that encourages more and more people to enter the field, resulting in an ever-growing pool of qualified and experienced professionals ready to take on roles in Hollywood.
Why Are Movie Stars Paid So Much?
The short answer is because the business is profitable, but that isn’t the whole story. To understand why the industry is sustainable, let’s take a look at the numbers.
Since its inception in the early 20th century, Hollywood has been making a lot of money. Back in 1905, Thomas Edison reportedly invested $50,000 in the creation of Hollywood, and the town grew quickly from there. The industry turned a profit within just a few years, with its first major success, The Great Train Robbery, earning back its $50,000 investment several times over. This proved to be a winning formula, and Hollywood quickly became the capital of the movie world.
One of the main reasons behind this early success was that the studios found a way to effectively market their films. In the decades that followed, the moguls behind Hollywood learned the importance of marketing campaigns and clever PR stunts, resulting in an ever-increasing number of people discovering the films they produced through these means. Marketing campaigns like Chevrolet’s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” and Kellogg’s “Monument Valley” helped build hype around the films they produced, earning the companies associated with these campaigns billions of dollars in revenue. They also learned the importance of staying in the public eye, and ensuring that their films are seen by as many people as possible.
Another critical factor in the boom in the film industry is the rise of TV. During the golden age of Hollywood, many people didn’t have the time to go to the movies, leaving a significant cinema audience gap. To fill this gap in terms of viewing entertainment, the TV industry arose, with Hollywood embracing the new medium wholeheartedly.
Television allows for more storytelling options than any other medium before it. One of the main attractions of TV is that it is able to tell longer, more drawn-out stories than any other form of entertainment. These stories are generally more effective because they can be seen in real-time, allowing the audience to react as the events unfold. This interaction is what makes television so unique and entertaining, resulting in people devoting entire lifetimes to the content they produce.
Hollywood took advantage of the fact that people could watch TV while cooking dinner, having their kids, or doing housework, effectively creating a whole new audience for their content.
The Growth Of Blockbuster And The Decline Of TV
As the TV industry grew, the movie studios responded by seeking to replicate this success in the realm of film. It took a few more decades for the strategy to bear fruit, but in the meantime, the growth of TV led to the decline of the single-serve film. Instead of going to the movies, people preferred staying at home and enjoying a large-scale cinematic experience through their TV sets.
The movie studios have shifted their strategy to emphasize limited releases and independent films to retain an audience. These types of movies are typically cheaper to produce than their blockbuster counterparts, but they require a much bigger commitment from the studios. For one thing, there is no clear return on investment with these kinds of films, since they don’t always make money at the box office. This means that the studios have to rely more heavily on marketing in order to draw in audiences, ensuring that sufficient people see their films to make them profitable. In the case of the Academy Award-winning 1917, the studio spent a staggering $25 million on ads alone, and didn’t see significant returns until after the movie had traveled to numerous festivals and secured a strong following. Similarly, the studio behind The Laundromat, a horror film, reportedly spent $10 million on ads alone, yet the movie only cost $5 million to make.
The strategy behind these kinds of films is to establish a small but solid base of fans, and then rely on word of mouth to grow this audience. These movies might not make much money at the box office, but the fact that they have an avid following among audiences and critics alike makes them seem like valuable acquisitions to Hollywood studios.
Why Do Movie Stars Get Paid So Much?
It’s easy to assume that movie stars get paid a huge amount of money because they are famous and talented individuals. However, there is a lot more to it than that. Let’s take a look.
The fact is, most major movie stars aren’t even that talented. According to research, only about 15% of people who claim to be movie stars are, in fact, above average. The others are either average or below, demonstrating how much luck and connections have helped them to rise to the top. These days, the majority of people who call themselves “movie stars” are actually model or fashion photographers who have been in successful movies due to their good looks, rather than their acting ability.
The reality is that there aren’t that many famous people in Hollywood, and when there is room for improvement, the famous individuals in the industry don’t always get the better of it. Take, for example, the case of Jennifer Lawrence. The Harvard-educated Lawrence is one of the most talented actors of her generation, and she has become quite the celebrity since her debut in 2010’s The Hunger Games.
Since then, Lawrence has appeared in a number of critically acclaimed and commercially successful films, maintaining her celebrity all this while.
The problem is that Lawrence still considers herself a “gym rat” at heart, and hasn’t yet seen the big-budget action spectacles that would put her talents to good use. In an effort to finally give the actress a break from her academic schedule, her management team at WME, the agency she works with, set up a special fund for her to help her transition into movie stardom. The money will come from sales of her upcoming book
The fund, called The Jennifer Lawrence Education Grant, will provide the Harvard graduate with the opportunity to study acting in London or Los Angeles, both of which are home to some of the most respected acting schools in the world. It’s good to see that Harvard isn’t taking its foot off the gas, aiming to continue producing successful and talented students for the rest of time (
Why Is Hollywood Ruled By The Streisand Effect?
It’s been a dramatic year for celebrity in Hollywood, with the likes of Meryl Streep, George Clooney, and Kevin Hart all receiving their fair share of criticism for taking too many roles, causing moviegoers to lose interest in films featuring them.
This year alone, Streep has starred in 22 films, Clooney in 24, and Hart in 14, according to The Wrap. It’s easy to see why these three have gained so much public attention with frequent and varied roles, but it’s also important to remember that audiences have a responsibility to vote with their feet. In 2019, more people went to see Meryl Streep’s The Irishman than any other film, with 12.2 million tickets sold. Hart’s Bluffing for Barack and Clooney’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty drew in 11.4 and 11.1 million moviegoers, respectively. These are some of the most successful and acclaimed movies of the year, but they also exemplify the pitfalls of over-Saturation in Hollywood. When audiences see the same thing over and over again, they tend to lose interest, causing the studios to suffer, as fewer people are choosing to go to the movies, and therefore less revenue.