Be thankful for blockbusters, Rex Murphy


News & Views

Big-budget flicks are a boon for thousands working behind the camera

By Susan G. Cole

Had to laugh at Rex Murphy’s Globe and Mail column last week – so full of overblown moralism and self-righteousness. In it he complains about the hopeless hypocricy inherent in high-priced Hollywood movies.

He cites the outrageous price tags for Pirates Of The Caribbean ($300 million) James Cameron’s upcoming Avatar ($500 million) and Transformers ($150 million) with the emphasis on star salaries, Transformers’ Megan Fox’s $20 million fee, in particular, as over-the-top and an insult to recession-stressed consumers. 

I encourage you to go to the Transformers site on the Internet Movie data Base and have a good look at the list of of cast and crew. You’ll see that Murphy’s comment, suggesting that $150 million was paid “for nothing” is ludicrous. There were over 2,000 highly skilled artists involved in making Transformers. Do the math. Factoring in the pricey on-screen talent and the network of producers (Steven Spielberg is one) I’ve declared the average yearly salary of $150,000 (about the salary of a third-year lawyer), divided it by 2, assuming the film gave people one half year’s work. Two thousand multiplied by $75,000 gives you $150 million.   

Giving two thousand people work in time of recession is a boon not an insult. It hardly qualifies as “nothing.” 

As for Fox and her not-so-talented ilk, why doesn’t Murphy go after athletes of average ability who are paid millions of dollars a year – seen the Leafs lately? – for their pathetic performance? Lay off the talented visual effects people who keep audiences in fantasyland.

Make no mistake, I’m no fan of blockbusters like Transformers, I was appalled by the makers of Dark Knight’s delusions of artistic grandeur and as T.O.’s beloved Carlton closes next month, we can lament that these huge blockbusters have taken over the movie biz.

But big-budget films that keep filmmakers employed? That’s not the problem. The problem is that Hollywood is turning away from smaller films that don’t require stadium seating and creating a monotonal movie landscape that blows up real good. We need cinematic variety, not stuck-up columnists who complain when special effects people get work.  

Nov 20, 2009

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