At the top of this year, layoffs were abounding all over Hollywood. People at every major studio were losing their jobs, and they numbered in the thousands. This was all due to studios attempting to cut costs and raise their stock prices. 

Lionsgate consolidated and dumped around 400 jobs and late last year, places like Spotify laid hundreds of people off in their scripted podcast division of Gimlet. 

As the LA Times reported in February, "Warner Bros. Discovery cut hundreds of jobs over the last year, including at CNN; Netflix followed a similar tack. Now United Talent AgencyNBCUniversal, and Paramount Global are laying off employees too, as are tech companies — a sector that’s increasingly entangled with media and entertainment interests."

And Vanity Fair reported around 7000 people lost their jobs at Disney. 

But where was the cut money going? 

Well, to be frank, to the CEOs. 

Warner Brothers Chief David Zaslav made almost $250 million in 2021 (and $246.6 million in 2022), and Netflix’s Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos both made more than $50 million last year. We also learned that In 2021, Disney’s Bob Iger and Bob Chapek made a combined $78 million. Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel made $308.2 million in 2022. 

While most of this money came in stock options, the numbers are pretty staggering. If you want to read more, The Hollywood Reporter has a whole breakdown of even more Hollywood CEOs, all of whom are making tens of millions of dollars. 

The fact is, with thousands of writers on strike not being paid, and it's a weird time to hear about immense paydays. 

Writer Adam Conover said on CNN last week“When the writers who are making their shows, some of them are not able to pay their rent or mortgages — I know writers who have to go on assistance. If you look at these companies, they’re making more money than ever. The people who make the shows for them are making less.”

So, how many people could these immense salaries have paid for? Are these CEOs really worth the money? 

Those are rhetorical questions. I do not have the answers, but I can tell you firing thousands cannot be cheaper than $250 million. If these people took a pay cut, many would not be out of work now. If they capped themselves at $50 million, thousands of people would not be out of work. 

This scenario is coming to a head faster than anyone realized, with both SAG and the DGA set to go into negotiations in June. It's hard to look at these paychecks and not think these companies can afford residuals and can afford to employ people. 

I hope everyone across Hollywood comes for their piece of the pie. We're making movies and TV shows. We're working in the offices that make these huge places run. We shouldn't be the ones losing our livelihoods over it while everyone else gets rich. 

Let me know what you think in the comments. 

Source: Bloomberg