#boxoffice

Salma Hayek’s curves are an unfair advantage in a world striving for equality

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She has a point, but not why you think. It’s a bit confusing though. Did Salma talk to Benedict? Do the Hollywood set want women to get pay rises or men to get pay cuts? Will the sisterhood be annoyed that she’s undone Cumberbatch’s gesture to bump them higher? Or should actors be paid a flat unionized rate by the hour, including a one hour lunch break? Equal pay for equal work, right?

The laughable aspect is that Hollywood actors/actresses know full well that track record at the box office acts as a swing factor for pay determination. Kate Winslet was little known before Titanic but immediately after the phone didn’t stop ringing for her to star in new roles. The pay most certainly jumped significantly as she was well within her rights to command top dollar.

Let’s not forget that the movie star agents (mostly male) get paid on commission so it is absolutely in their best interests to get the best deals for female and male stars. In an industry dominated by sycophants it is highly doubtful they’re low balling to spite those striving for gender equality. Or should directors just cast women and save on production costs?

Yet it points back to the real world. Did you bust a gut to finish top of your 1st class honours degree in law to settle for the same pay as someone who didn’t? Surely you did so to get an advantage in life. Do Olympians train for 4 years in the hope of finishing outside the medals? Or should we dispense with medals entirely? Imagine how many records won’t get broken because there is no incentive to see the fastest, strongest or fittest. More and more schools have this “everyone’s a winner at St Barnabus’” mentality on sports days because the fat kid needs reassurance that he is just as worthy of winning a 100m dash as the 50lb stick insect is in the shot put. Differences are a part of life and we should embrace them rather than push to guarantee everyone gets the same outcome regardless of individual effort.

Isn’t the point of buying a nicer house in a nicer suburb all about an individual desire to achieve? Or will you be happy for the state to allot you a Soviet style 2 bedroom apartment in a crappy neighborhood?

No, let’s just listen to champagne socialists go out of their way conducting self promotion activities. Although in hindsight Salma Hayek may have a point on cutting back on male actor salaries as the total revenue performance of the US box office has dwindled back to 1993 levels.  Just like music has gone the way of Spotify, making a date in the diary to see a movie doesn’t cut it anymore. Video on demand is increasingly what matters.

But Salma, please, please, please! If you get roles that pay you more than your male costars based on your talents then all power to you. You won’t hear a peep here. In fact congratulations for being able to maximize the appeal of such genres to audiences that will shell out for them. Maybe you should beat up on the script writers more often for not writing stories that play up to the male dominating sultry voluptuous vixens you play so well! Be careful though, you may get complaints from the less well endowed actresses for having an unfair advantage but surely you’ve never used those differences or your beauty to get ahead in your career?

Denial

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These are the Oscar stats. A 40% decline over 5 years. Is this a sign of a format that is no longer sustainable? Is the disintermediation/disruption caused by video on demand such that making a ‘date’ to go to the cinema is no longer a priority? Cinema attendance in the domestic US market is back at 1993 levels. In the 1990s Hollywood made 400-500 films annually. It now pumps out more than 700. The average revenue per film continues to head south. The strategy seems to throw more at audiences and hope it sticks. Are the movies the industry rates itself on actually reflected in the box office? Out of touch with the audience? It would seem so. See for yourself.

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It should appear to Hollywood that movies about real life stories are the ones that seem to resonate most with audiences – Titanic, The King’s Speech, Argo and A Beautiful Mind. These 4 films grossed $1.04 billion at the box office. It has been 10 years since Hollywood has had a fictional film it chose for itself beat the worst of the 4 movies based off real stories in ticket sales. It has been 15 years since having a proper blockbuster like Lord of the Rings which is arguably pure fantasy and extends to child audiences.

Films are of course subjective. One film one person may enjoy, others may not share the same view. It is interesting though that $100m box offices were a cert for an Oscar Best Picture award til 2004 after which it has been hit and miss since. 9 films in the last 13 have failed to breach $75mn. So instead of Hollywood being so preoccupied with espousing politics, perhaps it should look to the audience it ‘preaches’ to and starts ‘reaching’ them instead.