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Disney’s New Normal for Talent Pay

only murders in the building
You would think that a hit like Only Murders would pay massive profits via the M.A.G.R. formula, but with the traditional definition, there’s overhead and interest charged against it, there’s bloated overall deals, Covid expenses, and cast renegotiations. Courtesy: Disney
Matthew Belloni
February 22, 2024

I swear that half my emails—like half the conversations around town, I suppose—could be categorized as either: Can you believe how badly this company is screwing this person? or Can you believe how badly this person is screwing this company? Those sentiments are not unique to Hollywood, of course, but I do think there’s a heightened mistrust ingrained in a business that began through decades of exploitation of talented people, then flipped to a long era where in-demand talent could—with many exceptions—earn what they were worth (and then some), and is now regressing back to an earlier, take-it-or-leave-it period for all but those with the most leverage.    

You see the general regression all over town. There’s the obvious TV pullback; the death of pilot season (R.I.P. Oakwood pool parties); whatever the theatrical movie business is now (really, Paramount? A Ferris Bueller spinoff about the valets?); Netflix realizing it can make fewer originals now that the cash-poor studios are more than happy to license theirs; and so on. The result: The studios and streamers have far more leverage over the people who make their product, and they’re using it. And a lot of people feel like they’re getting screwed.