May 21, 2008

Grand Theft, Indeed

If I were still with the Back Stage organization, this is the sort of story I would kick myself that we hadn't reported: how Grand Theft Auto IV, possibly the biggest media opening ever--about double the average blockbuster movie, in fact--doesn't pay a dime of residuals or royalties to the actors who do its voices and motion-capture. I understand the cold logic of the industry, and I've heard the but-designers-don't-get-residuals argument many a time, but clearly if this buyout model stands, actors and their unions could face serious pressure in other media where residuals are the norm. This quote in particular sums up what could be coming:

“What drives video games is not Tracy and Hepburn; what drives it is the conception of the creative director,” said Ezra J. Doner, a former Hollywood executive who represents entertainment companies as a lawyer at Herrick, Feinstein in Brooklyn, N.Y. “The actor whose appearance or voice is used is more analogous to a session music [sic] for a band. The session musicians don’t get residuals on the sales of the CD. They get paid a session fee. It’s not like the star quality of Tom Cruise that’s getting people to buy that video game.”

So the bar is Tom Cruise? What's the last film he opened? Seriously, this same quote, giving all credit to the director or the writer or the producer (or more likely, the producing company), could be applied to every medium. Actors just walk and talk, right?

1 comment:

Leonard Jacobs said...

But this would have required someone actually paying attention to the rest of the world.