Oh, yes, and the bonuses will be in the mail

News that Hollywood raked in $10 billion in domestic box office in 2009 is great news for a belt-tightening industry during tough economic times. But I got to thinking the other day, in an era when the value of money has virtually lost all meaning? When Congress has hiked the debt level to $12.4 trillion and banks and auto companies have been bailed out by the federal government’s $700 billion in TARP fund, doesn’t $10 billion sound like chicken feed? Why crow about it? I mean, Tiger Woods alone is worth $1 billion and no one knows when he’ll get back to work.

But I digress.

You want big numbers? I’ll give you big numbers. Goldman Sachs, which received $10 billion last year in government bailout money, announced recently that it was giving $17 billion in BONUSES to its staff. Can you just imagine what agents at CAA are thinking right now, knowing they got into the wrong business after receiving their MBA’s?

Of course, Goldman immediately suffered public blowback from angry taxpayers, Congressmen and the White House, so now the company says it is giving its top executives stock that cannot be sold for five years. Something makes me think they’ll make even more in the long run provided the stock isn’t in media companies.

Then consider JP Morgan Chase & Co. According to CNN, the company gave out $29 billion in bonuses at year’s end. And, if that isn?t enough, CNN also reports that U.S. banks and hedge funds are doling out $140 billion in bonuses – more than in 2007!

So, all you top executives at Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Disney and Paramount, let’s adopt a real goal for 2010: domestic box office grosses of $100 billion!

Oh, yes, and the bonuses will be in the mail.

About Robert W. Welkos

Executive Editor: Robert W. Welkos is an award-winning journalist who covered the entertainment industry for 15 years as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. During this span, he wrote extensively about the movie industry from turmoil in the executive suites, the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, and box office hits and bombs to visits to movie sets as well as profiles of top stars and A-list directors, cutting edge features on the newest indie films and visits to famous film festivals like Sundance and Cannes. Prior to entertainment, Welkos worked as a reporter and assistant city editor in The Times’ Metro section where he undertook major investigations for the paper as well as covering breaking news and writing in-depth features. Before joining The Times, he worked for the Associated Press in Reno, Nevada, and City News Service in Los Angeles.

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