The Hollywood squeeze: Is outsourcing next?

Costs are up. DVD revenues are down. Piracy rages. And talent — according to talent, at least — is taking it on the chin. Studios say they’re the ones in trouble. But it’s the suits who are increasingly willing to walk off the job, cancelling pricey projects and leaving writers, actors, producers and their demands out in the cold.

And the worst is yet to come, media consumer. Entertainment is one of the last American industries to keep a toehold in the native soil. Manufacturing, high-tech, even customer friggin’ service, it’s all going overseas, where increasingly better-educated workforces in India and China are absorbing higher and higher quality jobs. I used to think I was safe: I peddle dumb puns, questionable opinions, and inconsequential observations about the condition of George Lucas’ beard — who can do that better than a Westerner?

The answer is… pretty much anyone, with a little English and a working knowledge of pop culture –and who owns pop culture? Not anyone. Certainly not America. (Maybe Canada, if you believe the conspiracy theorists.)

But if things look bad for me, imagine how screenwriters must feel. With Hollywood getting leaner every day, how long before talent is outsourced, along with everything else? A couple billion souls on the subcontinent, and more and more of them are watching TV, movies, soaking in Western pop culture and infusing it with their own: That’s how many million potential screenwriters out there?

As for actors… well, no one’s looking to crown a new $20 million man or woman these days. And if Borat is any indication, we may be entering an age where (fictional) character counts more than name recognition.

Hollywood: Outsourced? It could happen. Acrimonious union battles and ramped-up management defiance might be the prelude to another one of those giant sucking sounds. So the next time you’re on the line with "Ray" from customer support, ask him how that screenplay’s coming along — and see if he needs a cowriter.

Comments (22 total) Add your comment
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  • heidi

    Yes Scott, the canadians are taking over, be afraid,be very afraid.

  • p

    canadians rock

  • brandonk

    I don’t think many people are worried that actors aren’t going to be paid millions of dollars. Now they just need to threaten to outsource all those ridiculously overpaid sports players.

  • Ed

    I’m going to be the next star!
    All I need is Youtube, a good photoshopp program and a website on Myspace and I’m good to go.

  • Will Holston

    No actor is worth 20 million…..i would have thought they’d realized that by now

  • Martha

    Hey, Hollywood is already outsourcing production to Vancouver, Toronto, Prague and Romania because it’s cheaper, so why not outsource some of the actors as well??? The Indians and Central Europeans would probably do just as good a job as some of our overpaid, overhyped homegrowns.

  • V.M.L.

    I don’t care. Its great to find actors and actresses from other countries, but Hollywood really needs to pay attention to the American screenwriters and directors. I bet there’s alot of talented writers and directors here who are dying to break into the buisness.

  • Joey Jo Jo Jo

    You know what job will never be outsourced in Hollywood? Golf caddies. I’m auditing a studio exec’s expense report right now and you would not believe what these guys pay for greens fees, caddies, and golf carts.

  • EP Sato

    So long as EW’s published in NYC and Popwatch doesn’t move to Delhi, I’m content.
    As for the film industry leaving the country, that would suck. What we mostly export out of the USA these days is “cool”. We sell what is cool. Shoes, clothes, blue jeans, McDonalds, movies, Hip Hop cds, rock music, these are what keeps Americans popular in the eyes of the rest of the world. If we lose our status as the country that produces all the cool stuff (heck, even “salsa” music as it’s known today was invented in NYC), we’ll lose what few brownie points we’ve got with the rest of the world.
    But as was pointed out already, a lot of our movie and film industry’s already based out of Vancouver, and we still seem to be okay…

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  • Outsourcing Guru

    If hollywood will be outsourced as well… It will open a lot of opportunities to foreign countries with potentials. Although, I think for Americans, this isn’t a good idea just how as hard for them to embrace the outsourcing in India and other foreign lands.

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