Contingent Fees for Julia Roberts (and Erin Brockovich)

Here is more from my debate with Jim Copland on contingent fees.

Movie stars also work on contingent fee (they get paid a share of
the gross). Using your argument this causes them to go for films with a
low probability of a high payoff – the potential blockbuster that alas
is usually a dud. If we regulated fees so that movie stars could be
paid only a straight salary that would certainly change how movies are
financed. The studios (big law firms), for example, would become more
important. A few actors (lawyers) would make less money but the average
actor would make more (if you don’t give people a lottery ticket you
have to increase their average salary). But would changing how actors
are paid really improve the quality of the movies? I doubt it.

If you want better movies there’s only one solid method, attack the
source of the problem, and raise the taste level of the public. If the
public demands Armageddon
that is what they will get. The same is true of improving the tort
system – fiddling around with fees won’t do it – we need to address the
substantive issues that give judges and juries a taste for bad law.


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