Biggest pay rises in movie history

Yahoo UK Movies Features
27 January 2012

When a film is successful it can be down to many things - a good script, good direction, tapping into something people didn’t even know they wanted, maybe it was based on something already popular. What you can be sure of however, is that the stars of that film will want a lot more money to star in any sequel.

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Reports have emerged that the three stars of the ‘Hangover’ series - Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis - are all holding out for $15 million (£9.5m) paydays for the third film in the series, which is set to start filming in a couple of months.

The trio were paid less than $1 million for the first film - which became a box office smash in 2009.

Of course this is hardly a new concept in Hollywood, so we looked back at some of the biggest reported pay rises in movie history.

When Will Smith was on the cusp of the A-list he was handed a role in ‘Men in Black’, which landed him a nice $5 million (£3.1m) payday. It was the film that propelled him into the stratosphere and it’s no surprise that to draw him back for the sequel the studio quadrupled his pay.

Smith also reportedly had a clause in his contract that gave him 10 per cent of the film’s overall gross. If true, taking into account worldwide box office, the film would have netted the Fresh Prince an extra $40 million-ish.

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Johnny Depp was already a well-known star before he donned a pirate hat and became (we think) the highest paid movie star currently working in the industry. His stature saw him earn $10 million (£6.3m) for the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film, ‘Curse of the Black Pearl’. Its monumental success - and that of its two sequels - earned Depp $20 million (£12.7m) apiece and meant that he was paid an incredible $55.5 million (£35.3m) for the fourth instalment.

On a smaller scale, Tobey Maguire jumped from $4 million (£2.5m) to $17.5 million (£11.1m) over the course of Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy. Another series with a terrible last film was ‘The Matrix’ - which earned Keanu Reeves $10 million (£6.3m) plus 10 per cent of the gross for the first and $15 million (£9.5m) plus points for the next two.

This means he made around $40 million (£25.5m) for the first film, $111 million (£70.6m) for the second and $63 million (£40.1m) for the third. No matter what you think of his acting skills, Keanu certainly knows how to make money.

More amazing than these huge sums are what unknown stars go on to make after their film becomes an unexpected success.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently earned a modest $75,000 (£47,700) for his first turn in ‘The Terminator’. Not bad for a largely silent role but he’d go on to greater things of course, making around $12 million (£7.6m) for the film’s 1991 sequel and $30 million-odd (£19.1m) for 'part 3'.

That’s 400 times what he was paid for the original!

Keeping the Cameron connection, for ‘Aliens’ Sigourney Weaver banked $1 million - compared to the $30,000 (£19000) she received for Ridley Scott’s original. As the series grew so would her bank account, she raked in $4 million (£2.5m) for the third film and $11 million (£7m) for the fourth.

Not many women made such leaps when working on a series, save for Sandra Bullock, who was paid half a million dollars for the first ‘Speed’. She played the love interest to Keanu Reeves’ leading man, but replaced him as the star in the sequel and cashed in a cool $11 million (£7m).

Do you think stars are greedy for demanding such astronomical sums, or would you do the same in their position? Let us know in the comments section below...

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