Sunday, November 1, 2015

Topic Of The Day: Regarding The Hollywood Wage Gap

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. For today's topic, I figured I'd delve into a subject in Hollywood that, to me, is getting out of hand. That is the wage gap between actors and actresses.

Recently, Jessica Chastain did an interview where she claimed that she was paid less than a quarter of her reported salary in The Martian. It was reported that she made $7 million but only made less than $1.75 million while her male co-star Matt Damon likely made 8 digits. However, in my opinion, that seems pretty fair considering how small of a role she had and that Damon is a big contributor to the film's success. Sure, she's a 2-time Oscar nominee, but with all due respect to her, her name doesn't fill multiplexes. She's a respected name but respect and awards don't always equal being a big draw. Hilary Swank has an enviable 2-0 Oscar record yet she still doesn't command a high salary because she is simply not a draw. It's the same thing with the guys too. Look at Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He has hits on his resume (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, etc.), but plenty of films he's done where he was the lead haven't all fared well. So if actresses, and actors, want a high salary, they need to be somebody that people will pay to see. Even if you have hits on your resume, it doesn't automatically mean you are a draw.

When I was reading a list of actors who can still command a $20 million payday like Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie, and Robert Downey. Jr., I can see why they still get that much because they are a significant factor in the success of the films they star in. Jennifer Lawrence just joined that club with the upcoming Passengers, but Sony was reluctant to give her that much. Mainly because they wanted to keep the budget down but I'm sure another reason is because Lawrence won't be shapeshifting or carrying her bow and arrow and David O. Russell won't be directing. The biggest wins on her resume have been her franchises and work with David O. Russell so Sony must've felt it would be a big risk giving her such a high chunk of dough when she doesn't have the three things I just mentioned. If Passengers is a big hit, then she'll likely be able to command a high price tag. But if not, her negotiating power will start to wane. Not because she is a woman, but because she wouldn't be bringing as many people into the theater and, like I said, it is the same thing with the guys too. On the list of actors that I've read who can still command a $20m fee, names like Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp weren't on because they don't have the same kind of staying power as before. If your name alone brings people in, then you get the big paychecks or at least take a small fee and get your $20 million on the backend which is what I think actors should do.

I personally prefer to see actors take a small fee upfront, then get more money on the backend so they can help the suits preserve the budgets on their films. That's why when Jennifer Lawrence's Passengers salary was announced: 20 million upfront plus 30% of the grosses, I was a little miffed. Even though it was in response to the Sony hack, where it was revealed that she made less than Jeremy Renner on American Hustle and had less backend points despite their roles having a similar size, I'm left thinking to myself "Why not just ask for a small bump on your upfront fee and higher backend points?" I think if all A-list actors were to take a small fee upfront and get the same amount of backend points, it would be one way to solve the wage gap problem in Hollywood and make their starring vehicles more profitable because it would keep the costs down.

So, I just wanted to share my thoughts on why I think the Hollywood wage gap situation is getting a little out of hand, with actresses like Jessica Chastain chiming in, and what can be done to fix the whole issue. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for
reading!