How Hollywood stars make $200,000 on one red carpet

Published: January 06, 2019 15:41:03 | Updated: January 10, 2019 13:33:22

From left: Lady Gaga, Emily Blunt, Regina King and Rachel Weisz. Internet photo

For luxury brands awarding red carpet contracts, the Golden Globes kick off the 2019 awards season. Gown, tux and jewelry designers — even hair-product companies — have begun paying out big deals to lock up talent as early as October, before the nominations are even announced in December. A North American head of a global jewellery brand says that if a "brand partner" wins a Globe, there is an additional bump in the contract, and if an actor or actress doesn't receive a nomination, "then we're screwed."

The gamble is worth it, says a Hollywood dealmaker (who requested anonymity as such transactions are confidential and rarely revealed) for a number of luxury brands: "It's the ultimate marketing tool. Here's a global moment to get your product seen. Starting with the Golden Globes, the red carpet gets millions of eyeballs as opposed to, say, a movie premiere."

Placing a gown or jewellery on an A-lister runs from $50,000 to $200,000 for a single red carpet appearance and, for a contract that encompasses the entire awards season, the total "could go up to the mid-to-high six figures or even seven," says the dealmaker. Offers come in "from head to toe," says veteran stylist Elizabeth Saltzman, who dresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Saoirse Ronan, as well as Globes co-host Sandra Oh and her Killing Eve co-star Jodie Comer. She adds, "Whether it's hair jewellery, foundation, lipstick, self-tanner, underwear, shoes, the jewellery or the dress — deals can come from all of it."

As filmmaking economics change, with the $20 million movie paycheck going by the wayside, red carpet contracts are more coveted than ever. "It's very rare that the talent wants anything to come out of (their) pocket anymore," says stylist Cristina Ehrlich, who is dressing nominees Laura Dern, Yvonne Strahovski and Penelope Cruz for the Globes. "The secret is out: Everybody knows that a lot of actresses are making more money on their endorsements than on being an actor." With dress contracts locked up beforehand, red carpet stylists are acting more as facilitators between luxury brands and their clients than as actual stylists, according to Hollywood Reporter.

Rick Genow is an attorney who represents performers in negotiations with big brands, from awards-season riders to more long-term contracts for brand ambassadorships, which typically include personal appearances, advertising, and red carpet exclusivity. "You can't bank only on performances in a film or TV career anymore," he says. "Brands are going directly to talent that they hope speaks to their clientele. And now that celebrities have their own social media feeds, they are no longer dictated to by the networks or the studios."

Months before awards season, marketers are following the film festivals, keeping an eye on reviews and seeing projects themselves. "We want to identify talent as opposed to celebrity," says the dealmaker. "Luxury brands want someone who is known for something and not just for being famous." Among the Golden Globe nominees, Lady Gaga was the name that came from several brand reps' mouths as the first choice for placement, followed by Emily Blunt, Rachel Weisz, Claire Foy, Amy Adams, and Regina King, proving that while brands look for talent, they are looking for glamour as well.

"The Globes are a different beast than the Oscars," says the dealmaker. "You're never sure about the musical or comedy nominations — they're more of a wild card. So it's easier to focus on the drama and supporting nominations." With such machinations in play, the red carpet question of the moment may be, as one longtime stylist quipped, not so much "What are you wearing?" but "How much did you get paid to wear that?"

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