When you think of films with a cult following The NeverEnding Story and Labyrinth come to mind. Part of the reason why people tend to remember these films fondly is because beyond the complex story there were some truly awesome musical puppet numbers to accompany them. The film Labyrinth was hugely popular because of a tremendous soundtrack put together by the star of the film, David Bowie.
A little known fact about this film is that the part of the Goblin King was originally being heavily pitched to Michael Jackson, who at the time was starting work on the early stages of the Bad album and still riding a wave of success with Thriller. It’s hard to imagine the King of Pop in that role, since Bowie made it so uniquely his own.
It’s true then that even kings have limitations sometimes.
When you think about stars being under contract to do specific films you think about salaries that number in the millions and on top of that you think of back end points, merchandising and so on. If you go back about sixty years or more the case was completely different.
Stars that showed promise usually got signed to seven-year contracts for their specific studio. When stars signed contracts they were usually unknowns that were more than likely going to be used as either fillers or B-side attractions. During the 1930’ s, 40’s, and 50’s most of those studio system contracts paid something like $100 per week and were a good way for developing talent. Stars like Marilyn Monroe, and Clint Eastwood were developed that way.
The seven-year contract was a way for the studios to also own their people and do with them as they pleased. Today the ball game is different and stars come and go as they please.
Those were the days, sort of.