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 2 - I'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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