Why Hollywood CEOs Could Face a Payday Reckoning Next Year

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Rebuking exorbitant chief executive pay is destined to be on the table at next year’s shareholder meetings amid lackluster earnings and a looming recession

Top row, from left: Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch, Paramount CEO Bob Bakish, and Disney CEO Bob Chapek. Bottom row, from left: Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav. (Getty Images, Christopher Smith/TheWrap)

Hollywood quietly achieved a record this year when it comes to the lucrative compensation packages awarded to CEOs running all the nation’s major television, movie, and streaming businesses — but it’s becoming clear that come next year, shareholders will take CEOs to task where it really hurts: their paychecks.

Hardly an eyebrow was raised when Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav took home $246 million in compensation for 2021, more than six times his 2020 pay (and well above his all-time high of $156.1 million in 2014). It was the most money paid to a studio CEO for one year’s work — and higher than the combined paychecks for the CEOs of Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Comcast, Lionsgate and Fox.