Why Do Actors Get Paid Millions, Even Though Hollywood Could Find Actors Who Work For Free?

I understand the big name appeal and that a big name will put millions of butts in seats.

However, big actors are really, really expensive, and I think a movie depends on the STORYLINE, not whether an actor is famous or not.

So many people are desperate to be famous actors and are quite talented and would probably work for free or next to nothing.

So how come Hollywood never casts newer actors that they can pay much less? People like seeing fresh faces also, it gets tiring to see the same people in every movie. They could still get millions of butts in the seats as long as the movie's story is good, and save millions since they hired a lesser known actor.

14 Answers

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  • 2 weeks ago

    Credentials that SAG checks out. Would you want a repairman over to your house with no credentials replace your furnace for free?

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  • Anonymous
    3 weeks ago

    Well known, well liked actors sell tickets. 

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  • Athena
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    SOME actors get "paid millions."

    Most do not.

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  • 4 weeks ago

    I'm not sure that's really a fair questions.  Shouldn't the question be, if a movie studio is going to make billions of dollars why shouldn't an actor make some of those big bucks too?  Shouldn't an actor be fairly compensated for their work even if there are people willing to do it for free? And if you're working for free while others make a profit aren't you saying that your talent, work, skills have no value?

    Having famous, well-known actors in the movie increases the box office appeal (around the world) and make money for the producers.  Having a big name guarantees a larger distribution which increases revenue.  And often part of the payment a big-name actor receives includes a percentage of the movie profits so it's not so much that they're paid a lump sum of millions.  If a movie does well, then the actor should do well too.

    Understand that the money the actor makes includes more then just filming the movie, but also all the publicity they do to promote the movie.  Being famous means the actor can get booked on shows with larger audiences to spread the news about the movie - that's how they get millions butts in the seats.  And that's a lot of work as well - traveling, being interviewed many times a day, doing photo shoots, constantly having to be "on".  Why shouldn't an actor be paid big bucks for that work?

    Also it's a bit naive to think all a movie depends on a story line to make millions.  Frankly, these days a movie depends on marketing and promotions to make a name and make the really big bucks.  That's why there are so many sequels (and why so many of them are bad and yet make money).  Lets face it the Avengers movie series doesn't have the most compelling storyline.  And it's why these days the marketing budget can be more then the production cost. Big-name stars have a built-in fan base who will pay attention to what they and and what they do.  So it makes good business sense to invest in a name star.

    And for people who are interested in "fresh faces" - other venues exist outside of big Hollywood production.  There are film festivals, independent movie theaters, streaming services for independent film makes - so those opportunities are there.  And most actors are NOT desperate to be famous and would be happy (maybe even happier) working in these areas.  Acting has always been a competitive industry and will continue to be.  It use to be that a "triple threat" was someone who could act, sing and dance. Today a "triple threat" is someone who is an writer, actor, and producer.  Actors need to adjust.  And those that do should be fairly compensated.

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  • 4 weeks ago

    for much the same reason people spend thousands of dollars on expensive groceries, restaurants and prepared foods when they could grow and cook their own foods...which would not only be cheaper but far more healthy and nutritious...

    quite simply, many if not most people want what they want when they want it... and they value convenience, comfort and predictability far more than they value their own money...

    this goes for the producers who see hiring named talent as more of a "sure thing" for making money and for consumers who see paying to see famous people they know is a better bet than paying to see unknowns in works that might actually require some thinking...

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  • Cogito
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    As others have said in the answers below, it's a matter of selling the movie to the public.  Very few people will pay to see a movie if they've never heard of the cast.

    Actually, very few people are 'desperate to become famous'.  Real actors don't care about fame - they just want to act.

    They cannot work for free because of union rules and so on.  They have a 'minimum wage' type of agreement.

    I agree that they should use far more 'unknown' actors.  They do use some, but not nearly enough.

    It's an incredibly competitive business to get into and like life itself, it's not fair and never will be.

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  • 4 weeks ago

    Dude, their agent negotiates for them, the agent gets 15% right off the top. It's all about the contract that gets agreed on by the studios and the agents.

    NOBODY works for free, not dentists, not lawyers, not waiters and waitresses.

    • ...Show all comments
    • Cogito
      Lv 7
      4 weeks agoReport

      Rose - you're right.  I know dozens of excellent actors, my daughter being one of them, who cannot get a good agent or any really good auditions.  It's a really hard, competitive business to try to get into.

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  • P
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    Movies are not just about weather if it's good or not it's about marketing them.   Recognizable actors are a brand within itself that helps sell the movie and builds excitement before anyone has even seen it.      People also tend to trust\like things they are familiar with.    Let's face it, people are lemmings and they want a familiar face to tell them what they should be doing.  The industry is the way it is because that's how the viewers spend their money.    There's 100's of indie films with no name people if you want something different.  The internet has at least made such films available to everyone even if the movie theaters won't touch them. 

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  • John
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    Many movies are made starring the actors you mention but those movies fail to wow the public.

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  • 4 weeks ago

    To quote a friend of mine who's been in the business FOREVER: "That's why they call it 'show business', not show friends".

    A-list actors put butts in the seats. "Free" actors don't. When you spend MILLIONS OF DOLLARS on a product, you want a return on that product. Duh!!!

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