The pay for Hollywood films is more or less stratospheric. The first big blockbusters from 2001 to 2005, including Iron Man (about the super villain Tony Stark), Spider-Man (about the superhero Peter Parker) and X-Men (about a group of mutants who work for the government), grossed nearly $1 billion. The next big blockbusters, 2010 to 2012, are The Dark Knight trilogy, Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. And the average salary for an entry-level job at the top of that list is more than $200,000.
In fact, with such an extreme focus, even a film director making small-scale movies can make millions. That’s the reason Quentin Tarantino makes more than 100 million dollars a year, more than any Hollywood director except John Woo. The fact that even a big-budget film is released only once every couple of years is why the pay is so high.
But why does it matter if a film is only shown once on television or only on DVD? Do those things make a difference to a person working on a movie?
I’ve worked in film as a producer, a director, and even a screenwriter during the last six years. It’s been a great experience and I love what I do. After all, I’ve got to be paid, right?
For me, the answer is a simple one: What the film is as a whole pays a lot more than what they’ll be spending to make the film.
To begin with, a film studio is going to put up a lot of money, probably well over a trillion dollars, on projects that take more than a year to make, and the studios are willing to give up more on what they’re paying for a certain movie than on what the studio is taking out of their own pockets.
In general terms, a feature film is something in the hundreds of millions of dollars for a studio, and a TV show is something in the billion-dollar range. That money goes in, and the studio is prepared to spend more than whatever they have in their own pockets for a given show. On a per-episode basis, for a show like The Walking Dead, that’s a lot of money to spend on a show you’re only going to broadcast once. But for a film, it’s a lot less.
In a short movie, the studio will put up the money to make the movie. But that money doesn’t
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