Sunday, April 05, 2009

Rising Box Office ... Declining Wages

Neither jobs nor salaries have cratered in the past year, which is a good thing. But they haven't moved up, either.

Not so for worldwide box office:

It’s been a very good year for the box office.

Worldwide box office rose 5.2 percent in 2008, to a total of $28.1 billion, fueled by foreign ticket sales -- which now comprise 65 percent of the total, an increase of 17 percent over the last five years, according to a new report by the Motion Picture Association of America.

And it’s not just foreign that’s fueling the business. Domestic sales hit their highest numbers in history, raking in $9.8 billion -- a 1.7 percent increase from 2007 and up 6.8 percent over five years ago ...

Happily, 2009's ticket sales are still going up.

Less happily, 2009 wages are flat or going down.

Last week, a designer who has worked at a medium-sized animation house for a bunch of years came in with a dilemna. He was distressed to discover that, all of a sudden, his designing and drawing seemed to be no good.

"So what's the problem?" I asked. "Your supervisor decided he hates your work?"

"No, my supe said he was happy with my work. But Human Resources called me in yesterday and told me my assignment ends in two weeks. They're going to let me go."

"Studio's downsizing?" I asked.

"Actually they're adding jobs, but not ones with my name on it."

It seemed weird to me. Somebody's delivered for his employer for half a dozen years, then whammo! His artistic chops don't cut it anymore.

The guy didn't want to leave if he could avoid it, so I suggested he go in and see if he could maybe take a wage cut instead of a pink slip.

And a couple of days later he phoned to tell me, "Okay, I'm not getting laid off. I went in and asked if they'd be willing to keep me at a lower salary, and they said 'sure.' So I guess my designs are all right if I'm making less money."

Funny how that works in today's economic climate.

The studios are reducing pay rates for the same reason dogs lick their genitals. Because they can.


Anonymous said...

A pay cut's better than pay elimination, I suppose. Probably time to start looking around though...

Anonymous said...

"Somebody's delivered for his employer for half a dozen years, then whammo! The artistic level doesn't cut it anymore."

The artistic level probably doesn't cut it. Especially compared to the growing number of well educated, fast, technologically advanced, and artistically unique individuals entering the industry.

If you want to keep your job, then you need to keep up with the new talent, do not close your eyes to new ideas, change, and, more training.

good luck to you all. It's only going to become more competitive.

Anonymous said...

"Newer artists are better"!? LMFAO! Oversimplification at it's best!

Anonymous said...

Doing the prettiest or the fastest work doesn't always equal the best work, although those guys are usually assured of jobs somewhere for obvious reasons. But it's not always all about purely technical proficiency but about thinking and having a feel for entertainment. Sometimes having experience really does help there, producers. Not making a case for seniority all by itself but it's just plain obvious that sure, it's competitive and we all need to have our skills razor sharp, etc but it isn't necessarily helpful to foster paranoia towards newer, younger artists any more than it does to automatically suggest that faster and more elaborate is always "better".

g said...

Newer artists arent always better, but let's not automatically jump to conclusions and say that experience trumps youth every time. I think its much more individual than that. Ive known many artists and animators who start at a company, and their talent and skill rivals or beats guys who've been there for 10 years or more. And on the other hand, Ive seen new artists and animators, though very talented, make rookie mistakes that cost them their job.

But turning your nose up at new talent just in principle is a very dangerous and self-defeating tactic. There's always a changing of the guard, even in nature, and theres no getting around it. Unfortunately, sometimes the current employee (regardless of years served) needs replacing with better/stronger/faster blood. A harsh truth, and more proof that if you want to keep your job, you must stay competitive and constantly learn and grow

Anonymous said...

The only hedge you have when you are condemned to a work-for-hire labor contract is your indispensability to the studio - call it 'talent' if you must - but even this depends heavily upon the balls of your director. And you will work yourself to your grave if you attempt to OT your way out of the tidal wave of inflation that is eroding your current salary 24/7.

OF COURSE they're picking up brand spankin' new 'talent' contracts as they squeeze out their current talent - IT'S A BUYERS MARKET. How else do you think they make a profit in the good times?

Amos said...

"The studios are reducing pay rates for the same reason dogs lick their genitals. Because they can."


"He that lies down with dogs, shall rise up with fleas."
 - Benjamin Franklin

Aniranter said...

Interesting how all these anonymooses choose to emphasize how artists need to compete against each other instead of working together to improve the artists' lot as a whole in this business.

Not cronyism, kids, just general looking out for each other because in the long run that'll help YOU in keeping a job.

Shocking concept, I know. Try it though, you might like it.

Anonymous said...

General looking out for each other works great. It's the specifics that get us into a world of hurt. The devil is always in the details, and it usually has to do with a number assigned to a legalized currency.

Every. Single. Time.

Kevin Geiger said...

Why can't people post under their actual names? Another shocking concept. ;-)

Is what's being said so controversial or consequential?

Kevin Geiger

r said...

Posting anonymously allows the commenting bloger to post his true opinion, without the fear of personal attacks and retribution by someone else, especially at work. Which, is a sad reflection of the closed group we are involved in.


Kevin Geiger said...

Problem is that anonymous blog opinions have less weight than the paper they're written on. ;-)

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