Hollywood stars doing weird stuff overseas used to be a normal thing. Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars used to get paid giant piles of money to do commercials in Japan, and since nobody in the US would ever see them (this was pre-internet, you understand), they went ahead and did it. Still, even in the internet age, seeing the stars making seemingly unusual choices isn’t entirely gone. This leads to the fact that there is a 15-minute Chinese short film, which is essentially a commercial, that was directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt. How does such a thing exist? Giant piles of money, of course.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the film, titled The Audition, tells the tale of DiCaprio and De Niro, as themselves, finding themselves in a casino together going after the same role in a Scorsese-directed film. The reason the film takes place in a casino is that the short is essentially an advertisement for the just-opened Studio City casino/resort in Macau. The movie reportedly took about a week to film, and the actors each pocketed $13 million -- even Brad Pitt, who’s only in the last three minutes. It’s nice work if you can get it.
How all these amazing talents ended up making a commercial together comes back to the fact that one of the investors in the resort is a man named James Packer, who’s also a business partner of De Niro, who of course has worked with DiCaprio and Scorsese. Packer also has a third business, a production company where his partner is director Brett Ratner. Ratner, in turn, has invested in Brad Pitt’s production company. Everybody have all that straight? There’s going to be a quiz later.
The film as a whole is reported to have cost $70 million in total. Packer refuses to confirm the figure, but he’s not correcting it, either. While it’s not rumored how much Scorsese was paid for directing the film, if he made as much as the three actors, and let’s face it, if he didn’t the man was robbed, the salaries alone would total $52 million.
While Hollywood paydays for feature films are absolutely out of hand, $13 million would be a respectable income for a major motion picture, and those could take months to complete. Getting the same check for a week is just out of this world. It just goes to show how in-demand Hollywood stars are all over the world. And this has to be the best-acted advertisement in the history of the world. Will this thing be eligible for a Clio Award? It needs to be.
The short film is actually getting some attention at film festivals and it’s getting placement before films in some Hong Kong movie theaters so we may actually get to see this thing at some point. The creators are really trying to push it as a short film, mostly because the Chinese Communist Party isn’t a big fan of casino advertising. Is this a "movie" you’d like to see?