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Forget liberty - give us residuals or give us death. It's a sentiment shared by countless actors, and one most poignantly offered by Michael Hollick, better known as the voice of GTA IV's immigrant star, Niko Bellic.
In a New York Times article, Hollick revealed that he earned about $100,000 for 15 months of work recording dialogue for his role as GTA IV's protagonist. The game, however, has gone on to rake in over $600 million in a mere two weeks.
And Hollick won't see a dime of it.
"It's tough, when you see Grand Theft Auto IV out there as the biggest thing going right now, when they're making hundreds of millions of dollars, and we don't see any of it," Hollick told the Times. "I don't blame Rockstar. I blame our union for not having the agreements in place to protect the creative people who drive the sales of these games."
The pay discrepancy stems from the fact that Hollywood has yet to make provisions for electronic media, including video games or the Internet. Instead, actors get paid standard Screen Actor's Guild day wages for their work (roughly $730), leaving them out of the lucrative residual loop should a property become financially successful. When it becomes as successful as GTA IV, an actor could be out literally millions.
Hollick is also peeved that he received no additional compensation for lending his voice to the game's massive marketing blitz.
"The first GTA 4 trailer generated something like 40 million hits online, and that's my voice all over it, and I get nothing. If that were a radio spot, I would have. Same thing for the TV ads. I recorded those lines for the game, but now they're all over television."
Further muddling matters is the fact that numerous artists, programmers and engineers contribute to the creation of a virtual character like Niko Bellic. Where, execs claim, do you draw the residual line?
We suspect they're about to find out. The issue bears a distinct resemblance to last year's writer's strike, leading many to speculate a similar battle between the Actor's Guild and Hollywood this summer. After spending a few weeks playing GTA IV, I wouldn't bet against the Niko. Have you seen what that guy would do for money?
I've been on TV more than 100 times, so of course I'm right. - Jack Thompson