Movies can be a big gamble, we all get that. So there is a chance that you may feel a twinge of sympathy next time a studio talking head complains about poor ticket sales, piracy and the general apathy of modern audiences.
On the other hand, maybe they could save some money by just paying their stars a little less! It’s already a big debate whether star power still means much at the box office. Do people really show up in their droves because they want to see Leonardo DiCaprio or Angelina Jolie in action? Despite all the frothing of mouths she causes among movie watching males, is Jennifer Lawrence really attracting all those hormonal hordes to her films? Or is it all paper popularity: a big name, but not one that necessarily turns that into effective revenue? Some argue that the last actor to really have a name that could do that was Johnny Depp – and even his appeal is not what it used to be.
With that debate in mind, take a look at what some actors are being paid on average for their work, excluding royalties, writing and production kickbacks. The Hollywood Reporter has put together a list and it’s staggering, if not altogether surprising:
- Leonardo DiCaprio – $20 million
- Sandra Bullock – $20 million
- Matt Damon – $20 million
- Robert Downey Jr. – $20 million
- Denzel Washington – $20 million
- Angelina Jolie – $15 – $20 million
- Dwayne Johnson – $14 – $15 million
- Mark Wahlberg – $10 – $15 million
- Jennifer Lawrence – $10 – $15 million
- Melissa McCarthy – $10 million
- Seth Rogen – $8.4 million
I am a bit surprised (and happy) to see Dwayne Johnson doing so well. For a wrestler-turned-actor he has done exceptionally well, perhaps because he tends to diversify – playing a lot of action and comedy and also happily switching between lead and support roles.
The article details some up-and-comers as well. Channing Tatum, Bradley Cooper and Ben Affleck may all soon be able to demand $15 to $20 million per movie. It also details some changes in how stars make their money, with the type of back-end deals that Robert Downey Jr. enjoyed on Avengers (which netted him an estimated $50 million paycheck in the end) becoming very rare nowadays as studios are only paying actors their cut after the movie has broken even with all production and advertising costs.
Still, these guys can’t plead poverty and, if I’m to be honest, I find it hard for big studios to bemoan the state of the industry when they dish out the dollars like this. Then again, this may explain why we are seeing more young stars being put in high-profile roles. For example, Val Kilmer had to really build up his cachet before getting a Batman role. Andrew Garfield was not nearly as renowned when he was offered Spider-Man – and probably cost a lot less to hire as well.
Last Updated: March 27, 2015