Friday, January 30, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire's Children

The makers of feel-good hit Slumdog Millionaire are trying to mitigate a controversy regarding the compensation paid to the child actors in the film. Director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson are taking a beating in the press after it was discovered how little the children earned in comparison to the film’s success.

Slumdog has earned about $43 million so far, and it cost only $15 million to make. In Hollywood terms $15 million is what people pay for parking, not for an entire movie (one of the many reasons why this movie is extra-special).

It has been reported that the children in Slumdog earned between $1,000 and $2,400 dollars, though Boyle and Colson will not confirm the amount.

The official explanation:
In their statement, Boyle and Colson said the production took special care to look after the children's welfare, paying for their elementary and secondary schooling (neither child had been educated before) since last June, covering their basic living costs (including health care and emergencies) and establishing "a substantial lump sum" payment for college tuition that will be distributed to the young boy and girl "when they complete their studies."
Fox SearchLight said:
For 30 days' work, the children were paid three times the average local adult salary. . . . We are extremely proud of this film, and proud of the way our child actors have been treated.
Slumdog was supposed to go straight to DVD and break even. Then someone at the head office stopped counting their money long enough to actually see the movie. One can only imagine how that played out. It’s not every day that something beyond magnificent pops out of fifteen million Hollywood dollars.

Boyle and Colson, bless them, gave us a movie that is - in my world – as close to perfect as it gets. From what I’ve heard, they are good and decent people trying to do right by the children who made the movie soar (because without those kids, half of the movie would be missing). Still, it bothers me that the 8 year-olds from their movie are living in squalor.

I realize that the kids made more money than anyone in their Mumbai neighborhood last year, but that’s nothing Fox Searchlight should be proud of when you consider that everyone on the block lives under a plastic tarp, next to open sewers.

Modest trust funds have been set up for the children. They will receive it when they “complete their studies”. How may children actually finish their education while growing up on a mud puddle in the Third World? These kids might make it because of recent press but only if Boyle, Colson, Fox Searchlight and everyone who saw this movie cares what people are saying about Slumdog ten years from now.

You and I could have a spirited discussion about fairness versus justice, regarding the children’s salaries. But I would tell you, in all fairness to the big picture, justice is not being served.

There's something else. I’ve been wondering if the Hollywood dealmakers are warming their hands by the trash can fires of the latest Slumdog news. They have a vested interest in making expensive movies that cost much more than $15 million. It’s not good for business when someone else can do a better job for half the money, Salim.

I want this movie to win the Oscar and it would be terrific if the happy ending can reverberate throughout the lives of everyone involved with Slumdog. I would be thrilled beyond repair if the movie did not end here, but I know that reality often trumps a dream. For a little while, Slumdog made me think the opposite can happen. For that much I am grateful.

If you have not seen this movie, you should.

Bookmark and Share


anony tu said...

They were payed three times the adult wage? No shit? $42.50 for 30 days work? Generous modderfuckers, ain't they?

This has to be the most comprehensive review of this film I've read yet! And I've read a lot of them, it's my new hobby. It approaches the film from a new angle as well. I have not come across another that approaches it from the ripping off the child actors angle. Goddamit, Mojo! Do you EVER write a Mojopost that doesn't garner a 10?! I'd like to see it just one time so's I could believe that you really exist!

THIS Mojopost gets a 10, because it's brilliant!

atuu said...

Vote eat the rich.

Legalize marijuana.

atuu said...

Heeeeeey!!!! Who took away votes for eat the rich?! Stop that!

Mojopo said...

Atuu, I'm going to give your comments FIVE thumbs up. Why five? Because I don't have six! You hit the nail on the head about this! The director and producer (and Fox Searchlight) more or less said, "We can't give the kids more money because it will make them a target for crime! We had to do this for their own good!" WTF?

It's not like the adults here are watching Wild Kingdom, and they're not allowed to keep the baby ducks from being eaten by gators! These are real little kids, and for pennies a damn day Mr. Boyle could get Sally Struthers to BABYSIT. I dunno - maybe buy the families a shed to live in instead of a TENT. Would it be THAT HARD? JEEZUS!

anonytuu said...

Five thumbs up?! Lil ol me? Golly, Ms Mojopo, I am honored! But, honestly, it is YOU who makes the important points. My only talent is in recognizing them.
Eating the rich.

We will not eat the neuvo riche. Some of you are not voting eat the rich because you are worried about Oprah. Don't worry, Oprah is safe. She paid her dues on our side of the street and she is free to enjoy her milk baths. We will only eat the half-witted arrogant punks who were born with silver spoons up their butts or tangs. George W. Bush, Paris Hilton, they are fair game. We will not only eat them, but boil their bones to make sealing paste. I know, I know, it's George Bush, yuck! Just hold your noses and take a bite, same way your mams taught you to eat cooked carrots.

Oprah is safe. Vote eat the rich.