The Most Outrageous Movie Star Paydays


Sometimes actors deserve the extortionate amounts of money they earn - or at least you can understand why they’ve been given it. However, there are moments - and movies - where the star’s salary is simply ridiculous. Here are some of those times. Feel free to get annoyed.

(N.B. Where necessary, we have adjusted amounts for inflation.)

Keanu Reeves ‘Matrix Reloaded’, ‘Matrix Revolutions’ (2003) - £138m

Will Smith made a lot of money during the Noughties, but he’ll be kicking himself that he turned down the role of Neo in 'The Matrix’.

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When 'Matrix Reloaded’ and 'Matrix Revolutions’ rolled round, Keanu Reeves had got himself an upfront fee of £24.2m. With the backend deal, he is thought to have earned more than £138m from the futuristic saga. The generous star gave most of it away to the crew of the films so we can’t be too jealous, but we wish he’d got it for the first one and not those rubbish sequels.

Burt Reynolds - ‘The Cannonball Run’ (1981) - £9.7m

The 'Deliverance’ star managed to get himself into a financial pickle later in his career, so it’s lucky he had such lavish funds to fall back on. For 1981’s 'The Cannonball Run’, Burt Reynolds got £9.7m. For smiling at girls in spandex onesies and driving around in that nice car. This is why Burt’s life is better than yours.

Martin Lawrence - 'Black Knight’ (2001) - £13.9m

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that Lawrence was at one point a massive star. Certainly, he did himself no favours with this lacklustre vehicle in which he plays an amusement park worker who somehow (don’t ask why. Really don’t) ends up in medieval England. But he still got this huge pay cheque. This is one of the reasons parents give their children for why life is unfair.

Sean Connery - 'Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves’ (1991) £280,000 for four lines and one scene

Everyone was surprised enough to stop buying that Bryan Adams single for a moment when the ex-007 showed up at the end of this Kevin Costner flick as Richard the Lionheart. When you learn how much he got for what must have been a day’s work and a slap-up lunch, it’s not quite so shocking.

Chris Tucker - 'Rush Hour 3’ (2007) - £40m

Chris Tucker may be a, shall we say, divisive actor, but he’s most definitely a shrewd businessman. He demanded a $25m salary for the third instalment of the franchise in which he starred with Jackie Chan, as well as 20% of the gross box office.

Since the film made £150m, Tucker did very, very well. He should have gone round to every cinema showing the film and given the audience their money back. While not speaking.

Arnold Schwarzenegger - 'Batman & Robin’ (1997) - £23.1m

When you remember quite how bad the fourth Caped Crusader film is, it’s particularly depressing to realise how successfully Schwarzenegger cashed in. Okay, so they bumped up his part accordingly, but did Arnie really deserve this much money for shouting a series of cheesy ice puns?

Jack Nicholson - 'Batman’ (1989) - £100m

The 80s was the decade of the macho action hero, which makes it ironic that it was an old-fashioned character actor-style leading man who picked up the biggest salary. Jack Nicholson got six million bucks to play the Joker in 'Batman’, but with gross and merchandising points (similar to the canny move Alec Guinness has made with 'Star Wars’), Jack ended up with north of £100m. Something tells us that Joker grin didn’t require make-up.

Channing Tatum - 'Magic Mike’ (2012) - £35m

It’s an amount that’s enough to make you start channing all over your tatum. But by self-financing the film (with Steven Soderbergh) and keeping costs low, Tatum was able to take most of the profits for himself.

Plus he’s set to make more since the film is due to be turned into a Broadway show. For the very reason that this movie made all men who watched it realise how fat they really are, Tatum merits your wrath.

Marlon Brando - 'Superman’ (1978) - £11.7million for two weeks work

When producers the Salkinds were trying to package the original movie, they promised the world to Brando to get him on board for the small role of Jor-El, Supes’s dad. For just two weeks work (max), the man formerly known as Don Corleone got more than £11million and there’s debate about the size of his profit participation too. If the figure of 11.75% of the gross is to be believed, then you can tack another 20 mill on there. Brando must have been shouting “suckers” all the way to the bank.

Tim Allen - 'Joe Somebody’ (2001) - £10.1m

Hands up if you’ve seen 'Joe Somebody’? Okay, how about if you’ve heard of it? Despite its disappearance at the box office, Allen was a big enough TV star at the time (the first actor to command $1m per episode of 'Home Improvement’) to merit more than ten mill for this tale of an office drone who stands up to a bully. Yes, it’s as boring as it sounds. But Allen’s accountant doesn’t care.

Katherine Heigl - ‘One For The Money’ (2012) - £8.8m

She was already carving out a reputation for making mediocre romcoms and being “difficult”, which is why this turkey was pretty much the final nail in Heigl’s movie coffin.

Still, for playing klutzy detective Stephanie Plum, adapted from Janet Evanovich’s best-selling novels, the actress could have bought a really nice holiday house.

John Travolta - 'Lucky Numbers’ (2000) - £18.9m

After his comeback in 'Pulp Fiction’, Travolta milked Hollywood’s coffers for all it was worth. Which in the case of this flop comedy co-starring Lisa Kudrow is quite a lot.

Sylvester Stallone - 'Over The Top’ (1987) - £17m

Sly spent the 80s capitalising on his breakthrough with 'Rocky’. For the third sequel of the boxing franchise in 1982 he got £12.5m. But it was for the dubious actioner which tried and failed to turn arm-wrestling into a cool sport that he got a real windfall. Plus his character is called Lincoln Hawk, which stupid, but awesome.

Eddie Murphy - 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash’ (2002) - £16.5m

One of the biggest flops in movie history, the comedian nevertheless scooped a monster payday - which may be why he looks so pleased with himself in the poster.

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