500 million to 1 billion won per episode? Do top stars’ acting performances worth such high appearance fees?
K-media discusses the problem of casting top stars with huge appearance fees.
Some stars are already receiving high appearance fees of 200-300 million won per drama, and it’s not uncommon to hear news of them demanding 500 million won or even up to 1 billion won depending on the platform that releases their works. Recently, there are also rumors that a singer-actor requested the production team to pay 1 billion won for their appearance in a drama episode. In other words, if it’s a 16-episode series, they would be taking home a whopping 16 billion won after completing a project. Even if they receive only 300 million won per episode, it would still be 48 billion won for the whole 16 episodes.
It’s only natural for those stars to receive huge appearance fees, even up to hundreds of millions of won per episode, if they are able to achieve profits that exceed the entire production cost by making huge success in the global entertainment market. It would be a relief if they can prove the social and economic value of Korean content with the high appearance fees they receive.
However, the problem is that once a star’s value rises, it tends to not go down easily. The reality is that the high appearance fees for stars have become a worry for production teams because those expenses may affect the overall production cost of the drama.
If actors were to ask whether their acting performances are worth the appearance fees of 500 million or 1 billion won per episode, many of them wouldn’t readily agree and say they’re confident that a good drama will come out of it instead. This is because many actors show the same facial expressions, tone, and speech in every work, almost like they’re in the same place, despite being famous Hallyu stars. However, if they can still generate profits that exceed the production cost, then this can also be considered a “skill” to be praised.
Paying hundreds of millions of won per drama episode does not contribute much to the development of the culture and arts industry in Korea. While certain stars’ appearances may influence the viewership of a drama’s first episode, the formula of “top star = success” has already been broken. This means the appearance of a top star cannot guarantee absolute success for a work.
In order to make up for the part of the production cost that has been spent on hiring top stars, production teams tend to increase PPL exposure. On the other hand, lighting and sound staff members have no choice but to carry out a harsh and deadly shooting schedule.
Drama is a comprehensive art created by both the main and supporting actors, writers, directors, and on-site staff members. With such a high-paying structure, it seems difficult to improve the quality of actors’ performances.
An official in the entertainment industry said to OSEN, “If the production team can afford to pay top stars 300 million to 500 million won per episode and the work is guaranteed to be a successful project that can generate profits exceeding the total production costs, I would not object to paying millions of won in appearance fees”, adding “However, it is surprising to see the attitude of some stars and their agencies trying to raise appearance fees, knowing that they may not be able to receive such amounts.”
If a high-cost work with a “star face value” is not good enough, viewers’ interest in K-content can drop at any moment.