French Film Star Salaries Under Fire

FRENCH culture minister Aurelie Filippetti will begin a series of meetings starting January 23 on the financing of French cinema following criticism over the salaries of some of France’s leading actresses and actors.

It all began when Le Monde daily published an editorial December 28 in which Wild Bunch distribution outfit co-founder and prominent French producer Vincent Maraval criticized the French film subsidy system and accused the country’s movie stars of demanding unreasonably high salaries. He charged that all of the French films of 2012 that were “billed as important” lost millions in Euro. That included the latest instalments of two popular franchises, Asterix Et Obelix: Au Service De Sa Majeste, and La Verite Si Je Mens 3.

France churns out more than 200 films a year, a healthy number compared to 100 in Britain, 600 in the US and 1000 in India.  Despite The Artist sweeping last year’s Oscars, The Intouchables becoming an international smash hit, and healthy movie ticket sales in France, Maraval said that 2012 had been a disaster for French films when it came to making a profit. 

He blamed ballooning salaries of French stars, among them Vincent Cassel, Jean Reno, and Marion Cotillard, who he says pocketed as much as Euro 2 million ($2.6 million) from France when they were willing to accept as little as $65,000 to appear in American films released internationally.

Maraval is calling for a reform of the system, and also to cap actor’s salaries at $530,000 for subsidized films. While supported by some of the industry, his criticisms, France 24 reports, have met with fury by others who see the French film industry as a pillar of French culture. It quotes Epicentre Films distributor Daniel Chabannes as saying that Maraval has stirred up a hornet’s nest and “raised some uncomfortable questions.”