So this entry is going to be a tad different than what I usually write as it addresses a real and ongoing concern within the voiceover industry. For a long time, the voiceover industry has been one where the actors have been underpaid to a degree that is even less than the low paycheck issues affecting other acting industries. I think it’s important to really understand just how significant this issue is and one that needs to change because this is affecting the lives of people that work really hard to make the characters we love in the anime and animation industries come to life. Additionally, I feel that because of how this issue has caused significant outrage in actors and fans alike I truly feel that we are nearing the start of a shift that will cause industries to approach contract negotiations with these talented actors with a more fair and reasonable approach.
First, let us talk about the issue at hand which is of course pay. The fact is the pay for actors in the voiceover industry is poor. We’ve recently seen the success of the movie Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which is really good if you want to read my review you can find it here. Now while this movie was successful and even placed 2nd to The Batman on its opening weekend there are some big discrepancies between the earnings of the movie and the earnings of the actors involved.
First and foremost through my searches, I was unable to confirm what the budget was for Jujutsu Kaisen 0; however, I did find the budget for the anime movie Demon Slayer: Mugen Train which was $15.8 million. To further compare Jujutsu Kaisen to Demon Slayer the Demon Slayer anime costs about $80,000 per episode and the cost per episode for Jujutsu Kaisen was $150,000 an episode. So while it’s not the best comparison to make I’ll use the differences in the budget for each anime episode to give a rough estimate for the Jujutsu Kaisen movie to be $30 million. Now I’m likely off since this is just based on a rough comparison but I highly doubt I’m under the actual budget. To compare that to The Batman the budget for that movie was roughly $200 million. Further searches indicated that as of March 25th Jujutsu Kaisen 0 earned $150 Million worldwide and as of March 18th The Batman earned $500 million. So to compare the two movies The Batman earned 2.5 times its budget Jujutsu Kaisen earned five times its own budget.
Now we get to how the actors are paid. Robert Pattinson reportedly made about $3 million for his role as Batman. A high amount of money but the article I found this information in actually noted that this was an unusually low amount of pay for such a role. Chris Tergliafera, one of the actors in Jujutsu Kaisen confirmed that the actors for anime movies make roughly about $150 to $600 total. Now if the lead of Jujutsu Kaisen earned about $600 that is a significantly less percentage of the movie’s budget than Robert Pattinson’s income.
Pattinson’s income was roughly 1.5% of the budget and the lead for Jujutsu Kaisen was roughly .002%. If the lead of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 was paid the same percentage of the $30 million budget for the movie as Pattinson was for The Batman they would make $450,000. Now I know this doesn’t make for the most detailed comparison since these are two very different industries but just a quick look at the numbers shows Jujutsu Kaisen was very successful and yet they are not paying the actors anywhere remotely close to the rates for successful live-action movies. Now I’m not saying that the ratio of pay offered by these industries should be 1:1. I’m merely saying that the difference is so vast that the numbers support a significant pay raise for voiceover actors.
Now I know that was a lot to read so to summarize this, basically, if The Batman can pay its lead $3 million then Jujutsu Kaisen 0 can pay its lead more than $600.
All of this was to show just how much less the voice over industry is making for their hard work bringing characters to life but now we get to the next part which is why I think a shift in the way they are being paid is coming and I think it’s coming soon.
Recently Futurama announced it was coming back but was not going to cast John DiMaggio as Bender due to discrepancies regarding pay. Now because Bender is one of the most iconic characters on the show fans everywhere were outraged by this and DiMaggio received a lot of support from his voice actor colleagues. Ultimately an agreement was made and we will hear the original voice of Bender again but it took a lot to get there. Now we are seeing a similar concern in Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. Actors Reba Buhr, Joe Ochman, and Anne Yatco have confirmed they are all not returning to the show and cited pay concerns as the reason. In fact, Reba Buhr even stated that while this show made the most money of any project she was a part of she was paid the least for her involvement in this. This is why I feel a change is coming. The actors are tired of not being paid a fair wage for their work and all actors in the voiceover industry are taking note. The industry is a very close-knit one as actors have stated they support these three actors which means the pool of replacement actors for these individuals is rather low. Nobody wants to be the person that adds to the problem of low wages for voice actors and nobody wants that reputation to hurt their chances in future projects because the fact is one role is only going to pay the bills for so long.
Now from here, I don’t know what exactly will happen but I predict the actors will continue to stand up for better wages for the work that they do and truthfully I think at some point the companies will fold and start offering better pay. My calculations above show the profits justify a better paycheck for these actors and as long as actors continue to demand proper wages the companies will realize they either have to pay fair in negotiations or lose the fans that fell in love with the characters these actors brought to life.