Actors’ earnings during 1992 rose $ 12 million over ’91 levels to $ 1,097,621 ,442, marking one of the first indications that the recession may be nearing an end in Hollywood.
The rise is a 1.12% rebound over 1991 figures and the second-best annual performance ever for members of the Screen Actors Guild.
SAG’s best year to date was 1990, when earnings hit a record $ 1,106,764,966.
Up through 1990, SAG had reported annual earnings increases every year. Then, in 1991, earnings fell 2%, to $ 1,085,482,574. At the time, union officials chalked it up to the recession.
Today, earnings are beginning to rebound due to several reasons, most notably the expanding and diversifying production pool.
“What we’re seeing is an expansion of earnings in the television, commercial and industrial areas,” said SAG spokesman Mark Locher.
A large part of that is due to the increase in cable, pay-TV and homevideo production. In 1992, earnings for television work were reported at $ 407 million , while commercial work reached $ 441 million. Industrial film work brought in $ 10 million.
Again, some of these numbers remain below 1990 numbers, most notably as TV show earnings had then topped $ 418 million. But for the most part, the earnings are on the rise.
And while the diversifying TV work is creating more jobs for actors, film jobs for actors have continued to plummet. Film earnings continued their three-year slide.
SAG performers’ income from feature films in 1992 was $ 239 million, down 9.4 % from 1991’s $ 264 million. The ’91 earnings were a 3.7% drop from 1990 film earnings, reported to be $ 274 million.
“For one thing, I believe that there are a lot of actors who are doing film work for less money,” Locher said. “There is a real cost-consciousness going on in production companies.”
The top echelon of stars are still pulling in multimillion-dollar salaries and have not been harmed by the recession, Locher said; the middle range is where the economic crunch has hit the hardest.
“It’s the actors in the middle range who are not getting the kind of salaries that they used to get.”
Locher also believes that a lot of projects originally intended to be feature films are being reworked into TV or pay-TV projects.