First Ford announces plant closings and job cuts, and now this? It’s been a terrible day.

Facing declining cinema audiences, Hollywood is trying to persuade its top actors to set an example by cutting back a lucrative arrangement known as “first dollar”, under which the director, producer and stars receive a share of a film’s box office take regardless of whether the studio has covered its filming costs.

Tom Hanks had been expected to share 40% of the takings of The Da Vinci Code — to be released in May — with Ron Howard, the director, and Brian Grazer, the producer, in addition to their own fees. Instead, they will reportedly settle for 25%. Studios hope this will become the industry standard, claiming that this will leave them with more money to spend on the films….

…According to industry reports, Disney also cut down on star salaries before filming two sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean. Johnny Depp is believed to have sacrificed his “first dollar” to allow the studio to afford Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist, upon whom he modelled his piratical performance.

Hopefully this doesn’t make for diminished films. You go from paying somebody $25 million per movie and drop them to about $15 million, and the quality of the craft suffers as the actors go looking for other work or attempt to drown their sorrows.

Some Hollywood celebs, upon hearing the crushing financial news, have even taken the desperate measure of selling their dinnerware on eBay

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