Honest Movie Credits Reveal How Little Most Of Hollywood Makes

To show what it’s really like to work on a Hollywood blockbuster, Vanity Fair created this cutting credits sequence.

There’s a term in Hollywood called “above the line.” It comes from budget sheets. Directors, actors, and writers are above the line–they all represent negotiated talent. Everyone else is below it–and often make union minimum day rates.


Of course we’ve all heard this, that stars make way more money than everyone else. But Vanity Fair has effectively demonstrated it, leveraging Hollywood’s own credits sequence to deliver the sting.

In the video above, Vanity Fair present the credits of a hypothetical $200 million movie, with each staffer’s estimated salary listed next to his or her title. It’s a gut-punching visualization, to see the production assistants who pocketed $14,000 just a stone’s throw away from the actors who made literally 1,000 times that for a similar amount of work. And because it uses the language Hollywood has already ingrained in us–the credits themselves–there’s no mental hurdle needed to decode some infographic-y graph or chart before the message sinks in.

Indeed, it’s a superb, if unexpected, bit of data design, and after seeing it, we’ll never watch credits the same way again.

related video: How can we fix the Hollywood gender wage gap?

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.