Has The Recession Impacted Hollywood?

Published 6 years ago by

hollywood sign Has The Recession Impacted Hollywood?A while back I talked about how the global economic slow-down was affecting Hollywood (How Is The Economy Affecting Movie Studios?).  Now as new films go into development or production, studios are looking for ways to keep costs down. It looks like the recession has hit Hollywood, too.

With production set to start on Monday, Iron Man 2 is a lock for being one of the most anticipated films of 2010.  New co-stars Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson, and Don Cheadle (taking over the role of Rhodey from Terrence Howard, ) join returning cast Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow for the sequel to the 2008 smash hit.

So with the kind of numbers Iron Man made last year (over $580 million in worldwide box office), it would be safe to assume Rourke, hot off his Oscar nomination for The Wrestler, and Scarlett Johansson (who is pretty much hot in almost everything she does) were offered a nice chunk of change for the chance to play the villain Ivan and the Black Widow, right?  Wrong!  Each were offered only $250,000 for their roles and settled for around $400,000 (according to The Daily Beast), and I’ll assume a nice chunk of the profits, too.

Oh, and the chance to potentially star in more Marvel movies.

Heck, at one point Samuel L. Jackson (who showed up at the end of Iron Man in a brief cameo as Nick Fury head of SHIELD), was willing to walk away from the newly minted Marvel Universe because as he said, “[S]omebody else will be Nick Fury or maybe Nick Fury won’t be in it.” Well the good news is, Sam and Marvel struck a deal for him to appear in NINE movies as Fury!

Okay, I know I’m only focusing on Marvel Studios right now, and for the record I’m really excited about Iron Man 2I’m a huge Iron Man fan!  But there’s more to the recession and Hollywood than just one film.

I’ve been reading that stars’ salaries and perks (private jets, mega-trailers, etc.) are being re-negotiated, writers are seeing their scripts sell for less than their previous ones, development on new movies is slowing down considerably (which could also be blamed on the ongoing contract negotiations between SAG and the studios, see “The Latest On The Potential SAG Strike“), and more cost-cutting items.

It’s being reported by /Film that Fox is now refusing to help pay for 3D glasses for Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which can cost up to a $1 million per 3D movie (hello Fox, Avatar is opening in 8 months).  Now theater owners are pretty upset with the studio making this decision, and are threatening to show the film in only standard 2D.  Why is Fox haggling over the cost?  I’m guessing recession is on their minds.

So far this year people are going to the movies in droves.  Universal’s fourth Fast and Furious movie, which features the original cast, is set to make over $65 million this weekend.  That’s a huge record for an April release, and a great signal that the box office is going to do well this year. Given the fact that movies generally do very well when the economy goes south (escapism, perhaps?), it doesn’t make a lot of sense to aggravate movie theater owners right now.

Studios and their corporate owners may be in fear of the recession, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case: the box office.  They’ll likely increase production and we’ll have some great films to see in the next couple of years.  I think Hollywood is smart to reign in costs all around and not just with star salaries, but I hope they don’t go so far as to hurt the overall quality of the films.

Source: The Daily Beast

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  1. I think hollywood and the movie business maybe be one of the few businesses that are recession proof. Movies have always provided an escape from the real day-to-day hustle and bustle of our lives. Everyone needs a break every once in awhile and hollywood is always there to provide that break.

  2. i agree with you!

  3. and i’m certain Robert Downey Jr had many many money for this movie!

  4. Sometimes with the huge costs of FX, star salaries, etc., it’s hard to break even. The good news is there’s also foreign sales, DVD/download, TV, etc.


  5. Heath you make a great point. I’d like to see how much they make off dvd sales and such compared to theatrical costs.

  6. Wow FOX is really showing its corporate manipulation this week… Sounds like mob tactics to “push” theatres into converting to digital projection systems. (Average theatre cost $60.000.)
    Recession in Hollywood?, yeah I’m seeing a change in spending but it seems to be more like a trend. The news media is making such a huge deal out of Wall St, Banks and the Car Companies that other conglomerates are bending over and crying losses in profit…
    (IMO) The Movie Studios are just falling in line with this trend as layoffs and spending cuts support this overall news media hyped up recession.
    Of course unemployment is up, and jobs are drying up, but is this a direct cause of Wall St/the Housing market? Or is this “recession” just part of the (Economic Perfect Storm) the news media is riding right now…?

    Jobs have been drying up for years, with outsourcing in the technical support fields to computer manufacturing being outsourced to China. Chances are your computer and networking equipment are made in China.
    The NAFTA agreement, has been putting US workers on the street for over 10 years now…

    that’s hurting the Box Office? Sure doesn’t look that way to me. Fast & Furious making 68 million?!?! I hate to ponder what F&F would make in a thriving economy?
    Lol, we are talking about “Fast and Furious” a rental at best.

    (IMO) The media is fueling this recession, how ironic that their movie divisions are crying poverty. Btw last years overall profits were the highest ever for the motion picture biz…Statistically I guess you could manipulate the numbers to look however you wanted. To do this you would need to control the news media. Its all a big circle of manipulated bs.

    There is a recession and its being orchestrated. History proves that the film industry thrives in depressing times…

  7. I would agree about fear mongering in the media in the last year in their attempt to shape the elections, but now, it seems like their tactics had a negative side-effect in that it probably has made it all come true. But hey, with all of the money the government is spending and proposing to spend it appears like we are booming, lol. I love it when they b**** and moan about whatever negative economic impact was left here from before when within just 50 days they have already proposed to at least double and maybe even triple that negative effect within just 4 years! LOL. Crazy.

    We have no money, spend spend spend spend spend! Foot odor? Spend government money on it! LOL

    So hey, maybe forcing the theaters to spend more and more money is the way to go, because apparently the theory now is that the only way to save money is to spend it…

  8. Too late, the quality of films have been affected long since the recession started… producers only gather around to make “safe” blockbuster hits, hardly anything artistic, new, or risky would even get a shot. Like you said before, the sequal bug has highly contaminated the industry and every classic is getting a make-over. I want more than just a handful of quality films to watch each year!!! Maybe that’s why I’ve resorted in more indie films lately…

  9. When it comes to the stars’ salaries, maybe it’s because stars aren’t such huge draws anymore. Personally, I’m glad of this, because it requires them to be smarter in choosing their roles instead of picking up something stupid for the money. That way, the truly wise stars CAN end up making lots of money in the end, once they get themselves a great reputation.