Making movies is art. After all, a film is made up of dozens of artistic enclaves that design, draw, compose, and edit a director’s vision. Every angle is art. From the makeup to the costumes, the photographic imagery, the music and each performance that is intoxicated by the emotions, experiences or history of a character. But the cinema is not only that. It is also a business. And a huge one. In the case of Hollywood, projects can cost more than nine figures, and salaries can exceed 10 million dollars. Or more (much more) in the case of some stars. Y channing tatum it crashed head-on and without brakes against this reality when it had not yet achieved the notoriety of now.
Because in the artistic universe of Hollywood there is also another side that is rarely talked about. One that shows us that, deep down, it is a business where being an actor ends up being a job like any other. With a salary higher than ours -mere mortals- but work after all, with contractual obligations that go beyond a vision or artistic desire.
To know this story we must go back in time to the year 2009. channing tatum He was climbing the ranks as an actor. He had left his career as an erotic dancer (the one that inspired him the idea of magic mike) and her years as a model were in the past. A girl in trouble (She’s the man) with Amanda Bynes put him on the map and later step up consolidated his arrival in Hollywood. But he wanted to be much more than a fashionable heartthrob and tried his hand at minor films that helped him explore the more dramatic side of himself. What stop-loss about soldiers returning from the Iraq war or Public Enemies by Michael Mann. But then came the movie that was meant to make him an action star: G.I. Joe – The Origin of Cobra. But there was a problem: he didn’t want to do it. He did not want to know anything about the project.
His rejection was so great that he refused seven times to do it. But he had no choice. His contract with Paramount Pictures forced him to do it. “I rejected the first seven times but they had a contract on me and I had to do it” told during an interview for Vanity Fair in which he is subjected to a lie detector. He hated her so much that he himself asked to be killed early in the sequel. And it is that many will remember the surprise of discovering that the character who had been the protagonist in the 2009 film died in the first action sequence, leaving all the prominence to fall on the new signing of Dwayne Johnson. And Bruce Willis who, by then, had already started making easily forgettable action movies left and right.
If we go back a bit in time we find another interview where Channing gave more details. “I’ll be honest, I fucking hate that movie. I hate her” told Howard Stern in 2015 (via Guardian). “They forced me to do it. From Game of Honor they contracted me with a pact for three films… They give you the contract and let you go. And as a young actor, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, that sounds wonderful.’ Time passes, you do other jobs, you’re creating your label, you have a dream job you want to do… And the studio calls and says ‘we have a film for you, we’ll send it to you’. And he sends it to you and it’s GI Joe.”
Based on the popular Hasbro games, the film was directed by visual spectacle expert Stephen Sommers (The mummy, Van Helsing), but even so, Tatum knew right away that he wanted nothing to do with the project. Especially since he had been a fan of cartoons as a child, he knew the story well and asked the studio to let him play the lethal hero Snake Eyes. But they told him no, that he would give life to the main hero. “The script wasn’t good… And I didn’t want to do something that I’d been a fan of since I was a kid and seen the cartoon every morning growing up, and I didn’t want to do something that, one, was bad and, two, I didn’t know if I wanted to be GI Joe ” explained.
However, he had no choice. The contract that he had signed with Paramount Pictures committed him to make three films with the studio and, according to his words, the executives ended up activating the contractual legality that bound him and he had no choice but to do it. No artistic desire, no passion for the project. Only for work, because a contract so stipulated.
The truth is that this practice is common in Hollywood, or at least it was until a few years ago, when a study finds an actor with potential to attract box office or when there is an idea that can be expanded in the long term. Marvel Studios, for example, did it with the first Avengers. Not in vain the case of Chris Evans He is one of the best known, because he hesitated to accept Captain America’s offer because of the long-term commitment it entailed. EITHER Tom Hollandthat agrees several Spiderman movies in the same contract or the case of Bryce Dallas Howard Y Chris Pratt with an agreed trilogy for Jurassic World. A contract that ended paying her much lessand despite the success of the movies, for getting stuck in the initial clause of his salary.
In the origins of Hollywood too. Typically, each studio would have actors under a contract with a weekly salary that made them constant employees. Or for several years, complicating projects with other studios or professional advancement, as was the case with Marilyn Monroe who could not break away from the image of an attractive but superficial woman because of the type of films that forced her to interpret. Cases similar to that of channing tatum there are many in modern cinema. What Roy Schreider I didn’t want to do shark 2 after Steven Spielberg refused to direct it, but was bound by contract. Although in his case he managed to get Universal to pay him four times what he had earned with the first one.
EITHER jennifer garner who believed that the idea of the Elektra spinoff was “awful” but she had no choice but to fulfill her contract, according to what her ex-boyfriend Michael Vartan told Variety (via sfgate). Edward Norton experienced something similar when, after the success of The root of fear signed a three-film deal with Paramount in 1996. Being one of the hottest young actors, he was showered with proposals, but the studio eventually forced his contract with The fight Club. They renegotiated it but he was still obligated to make another movie. The years passed and finally the study forced him to do The master scam. Norton didn’t want to but the studio threatened legal action and he had to do it against his artistic will.
G.I. Joe – The Origin of Cobra it received negative reviews and a decent gross of $302 million, but having cost $175 million to make, I doubt they made a profit. The sequel lived practically the same experience. In summary, this tells us that the art of interpretation is still a business in the cradle of Hollywood in certain cases. And although young actors, eager for work and an artistic future, can benefit from this type of contract by allowing them to have the security of a number of films under their pockets, it is not always positive for both parties. Because, in the end, it is still an employment contract where there are professional duties that are not always passionate. That, in the end, it is not always an idyllic profession where Hollywood actors vibrate for their projects. But they also have to work, and not for the love of art. At least in the case of channing tatumhe ended up getting away with that death that made him disappear from the map.
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Channing Tatum de-glamors the job of being an actor by exposing the other side of the business