SAY ANYTHING, John Cusack, 1989. TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection.

John Cusack argues that it was in Fox’s business interest to act as if “Say Anything” was a bomb

John Cusacco took to Twitter with some cogent thoughts on the importance of the SAG-AFTRA strike and the business practices that have resulted in studios (and studio CEOs) making more and more money while many actors are barely making a living. His comments on 20th Century Fox’s then-20th Century Fox Cameron Crowe film, which became a beloved home video classic, are particularly interesting.

“Greed is almost a legendary comic trope,” Cusack tweeted. “Fun fact – when I was young – I made a movie (with a boom box) and somehow I got points – net not gross. I never expected to see any money – but the film has become quite famous – so about 10 years ago – I looked again at the financial statements they were obligated to report – and to my amazement – they claimed to have LOST 44 million dollars on the movie – I thought wow, I almost bankrupted Fox! (not really) The film cost about 13 million to make – and the money spent on the release was minimal at the time – 30 years later – that film is losing millions every year! Nice accounting trick, don’t you think?

“Say Anything” grossed $20.7 million at the time. But the issue Cusack is referring to is in line with why actors last went on strike in the 1980s: leftover home video revenue. “Say Anything” has become a huge cult hit over the years, and that image of him with the boombox over his head was a meme even in the early days of social media. He seems to imply that some “neat accounting trick” by Fox under its old regime (pre-Disney takeover) enabled them not to pay the residuals – that behaving as if the film were a flop was in the studio’s best commercial interest than if it had been a success.

If there was any doubt about Cusack’s implication here, a follow-up tweet puts it to rest:

The actor didn’t hold back, explaining how Hollywood is subject to the same corporate greed as the rest of America and hinting that the David Cronenberg film he starred in ‘Maps to the Stars’ is Hollywood’s best working conditions film . “The entertainment industry is only as corrupt as the rest of corporate America – it’s the same problems, the same predatory attitude – let them eat the cake – just greedy capitalist bullies, whores and pimps.”

As of this morning, SAG-AFTRA has officially taken to the streets of Los Angeles to picket major studios with union leadership, starting with Netflix headquarters. Read more about what SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher had to say yesterday and what rules actors must follow during the strike.