Will Smith, Maybe. But Vin Diesel?

February 17, 2011

As you may know, I talk a lot here and in my book about the business model in The New Hollywood and why it is in such dire straits that the continued existence of the business itself has become a widespread if only whispered fear.

Then along comes the wonderful March 2011 issue of “Vanity Fair”Magazine with fresh proof that the lunacy has reached new heights. or depths, depending on how you look at it. The following list is a compilation of recent per picture star salaries, not including the perks that I’ll discuss after the list. (I want to quickly note here that I am not knocking any of these actors for taking the following recent paydays that the studios showered upon them).

Johnny Depp: $35 million for new Pirates movie, $20 million for The Tourist.

Adam Sandler: $25 million

Will Smith: $20 million

Angelina Jolie: $19 million (which means that The Tourist had $39 million in 2 star salaries alone. Reportedly, the overall film budget was more than $100 million, not including advertising and other promotional costs. And let’s remember that both stars also get back-end, gross participation revenues as explained later in this blog. Anyone seen Ricky Gervais lately?)

Vince Vaughn: $17.5 million

Ben Stiller: $15 million

Robert Downey, Jr.: $15 million

Steve Carell: $15 million

Katherine Heigl: $15 million

Shia La Boeuf: $15 million

Vin Diesel: $15 million (Vin Diesel. Really?)

Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and Kristen Stewart each now get $12.5 million for Twilight movies.

Reese Witherspoon: $12 million.

Jennifer Aniston: $10 million

This list was compiled by “Vanity Fair” based on 2010 films and does not include superstars like Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, etc. It also only details the guaranteed fee per film. All of these actors have gross revenue participations as well. For instance, Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly made almost $60 million from Inception.

And, by the way, those salaries are only the starting point. As I state in Bringing Back The Old Hollywood:

“$25 Million: But What About My Dog Trainer?

The soaring salary demands of actors (twenty-five million dollars plus percentage points of the gross for the top stars) and the astronomical cost of television advertising have pushed the average cost of a Hollywood film to well over one hundred million dollars.

Yes, that’s the average cost. It wasn’t too long ago that no film even came close to costing that much.

And you read the sentence above correctly. Even though the definition of “gross” varies widely, top stars and directors now get a piece of the gross receipts as well.

Those twenty-five million dollar/gross point deals are not even the entire package for the big name stars. Let’s not forget the “perks.”

The deals for those stars call for several first class round trip tickets to and from the location for the star’s family. Assistants, fitness trainers, masseuses/masseurs, drivers, personal make up artists, and hair stylists are also paid for by the studio and premium first class motor homes are also provided.

The crowning “are you kidding me?” lowlight of these deals, however, is the fact that the stars also receive per diems on location that can exceed five thousand dollars per week.

Yes, that is in addition to their twenty-five million dollar salaries. Obviously, twenty-five million dollars is not enough money to pay for your own hotel room or food, right?

Of course we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Look, there’s a signpost up ahead.

We just entered “The Twilight Zone.

Which now, by the way, includes $37.5 million for Lautner, Stewart, and Pattinson.

Even Rod Serling could never have imagined that.

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