Big paychecks for the big names! When many of the most recognizable names in Hollywood are attached to star in potential blockbusters, they can often expect a very generous compensation package from production — a number that can total several millions of dollars.
Film stars have continued to earn massive paydays to headline major motion pictures over the years, often making these stars millionaires in the process. For instance, when Jim Carrey signed onto The Cable Guy in 1996, he earned an impressive $20 million check from Columbia Pictures in advance and a 15 percent backend promise from the picture’s box office sales, according to a June 1995 Variety report.
“It was a business decision,” Sony Pictures Chairman Mark Canton explained to the Los Angeles Times at the time. “And if it’s the right one, it’ll be very profitable. … I’m making movies to make money.”
Just one year prior, Carrey earned around $450,000 for Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and $7 million for Dumb and Dumber before signing the newer deal for the 1995 Sony flick.
Carrey’s $20 million salary has remained a solid standard for Hollywood’s biggest stars to use while negotiating for their own appearance fees, and several actors’ fees have long surpassed that. For example, actor Daniel Craig has earned nearly $100 million to appear in the Knives Out sequels, following the 2019 hit, according to a Variety report in August 2021.
Following the initial “whodunnit” flick’s popularity, Netflix hustled to sign new deals for Rian Johnson, Ram Bergman and the Skyfall actor to appear in two new movies within the film series. The Hollywood Reporter estimated in April 2021 that the streaming giant shelled out $469 million to make the deal happen.
While the biggest stars still earn millions for a single picture, there’s still a wage gap between the top actors and actresses. On Variety’s list, whereas Craig earned $100 million, no woman received more than $25 million.
When Jennifer Lawrence became Hollywood’s highest-paid actress in 2015, she soon realized she still wasn’t making nearly as much as her male counterparts after learning her American Hustle costars were paid substantially more than she was. She’s since been outspoken about the wage gap in various interviews and newspaper columns.
“I didn’t want to seem like a brat,” the Silver Linings Playbook star told CBS News in December 2015. “I knew it wasn’t Sony’s fault. There is a gender bias that we, as women, put upon ourselves. If I don’t use my voice for women who don’t have a voice, then what’s the point?”
“When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with d—ks, I didn’t get mad at Sony,” she wrote at the time. “I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need. … But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight.”
She continued in her letter, “I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard. Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I’m sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share.”
Scroll below to see how much the biggest movie stars earn for some of their most notable blockbuster pictures: