As we venture well into Blockbuster season it's easy to notice all the imperfections of Hollywood's finest. After all these popcorn flicks aren't one for noticing fine, true talent. We're here to have fun and enjoy some blow-em-up, bang-bang, instant gratifying entertainment. But for all the art these films may produce, it's essentially one huge movie-making business.
Forbes made this quite evident for us by looking back on the last three years and computing which of Hollywood's actors are overpaid in the bizz. To determine these top ten low-hitters, the financially minded reporters compared the amount of money grossed by a star's last three films to the star's paycheck for all three. They determined these profits by assuming a film would need to make several millions more than twice its production value to make a profit, plus the costs of advertising.
10. Sarah Jessica Parker ($7 for every $1 paid)
9. Ben Stiller ($6.50 for every $1 paid)
8. Denzel Washington ($6.30 for every $1 paid)
7. Adam Sandler ($6.30 for every $1 paid)
6. Nicolas Cage ($6 for every $1 paid)
5. Jack Black ($5.20 for every $1 paid)
4. Sandra Bullock ($5 for every $1 paid)
3. Reese Witherspoon ($3.90 for every $1 paid)
2. Katherine Heigl ($3.40 for every $1 paid)1. Eddie Murphy (movies grossed $2.30 for every $1 paid)
While some on the list seem completely obvious, I'm surprised Denzel Washington made the cut. I suppose the modest successes of The Book of Eli, Unstoppable, and Safe House proves that the two-time Oscar-winner demands too high a paycheck, at least according to Forbes. (Note: this list was compiled shortly after Flight hit theaters - totals are not in yet.) The rest of the list is noticeably dominated with actors associated with broad comedies and actresses associated with wacky romantic-comedies. But it's Eddie Murphy that takes the cake as the least valuable star, which doesn't I'm surprise me at all. Long are his glory years in the 80's.
Mind you Forbes did not take in account of any voice work when compiling this list. Murphy's last three starring films were Imagine That, Tower Heist, and A Thousand Words. Tower Heist, produced for $75 million and made $152 worldwide, barely turned a profit, while the other two - whose budgets combined came to about $95 million and earned only $42 worldwide... that is two films combined. In other words they were complete and utter flops.In order to even come close to turning a profit, a movie has to earn twice its production budget in ticket sales, plus the millions spent on marketing.
Forbes reveals other mind-boggling revelations, like how Heigl has demanded a salary of of about $12M since the horrible The Ugly Truth, and that the darling Mrs. Witherspoon's ("Do you know who I am?!") completely forgettable rom-com How Do You Know cost an absurd $120M when it only grossed a low and embarrassing $50M. Um, ouch. But even though this list is mostly full of beloved actors, it doesn't mean we're so inclined to see their sometimes cheesy, eye-rolling rom-coms and thrillers.