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Forbes Magazines: Most Overpaid Movie Stars


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Forbes Celebrity Valuations

Hollywood's Most Overpaid Movie Stars

Dorothy Pomerantz 09.08.08, 6:00 AM ET

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One of the most anticipated movies of the upcoming fall season is Australia, Baz Luhrmann's epic mash note to his home country, which stars Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman as Outback lovers. Kidman, more than anyone, is likely hoping it's a hit. Despite winning an Oscar for her performance in 2002's The Hours, Kidman has become the most overpaid celebrity in Hollywood.

According to our second annual ranking of the most (and least) bankable actors in Hollywood, Kidman's films earn a mere $1 for every dollar Kidman was paid, compared with $8 in 2007. The Invasion, a second remake of the 1956 classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, actually lost $2.68 for every dollar Kidman earned.

To compile our list, we looked at each star's last three films that opened wide before Jan. 1 (in order to give each film time for a DVD release). We didn't count animated movies, supporting roles or anyone consistently earning under $5 million per movie.

To calculate our payback figures, we took half of each film's worldwide box office (to roughly approximate the studio's cut of each ticket). Then we added the first three months of DVD revenues and subtracted the budget to derive the film's gross income. After that, the actor's total compensation (upfront pay plus any money earned from sharing in the film's profits) was divided into the gross income to get the actor's payback figure for the film. The payback for the last three movies for each actor was averaged to calculate ultimate payback. We deliberately used gross income rather than net income in our analysis because the latter figure is so easily manipulated by studio accountants, with marketing expenses treated differently for almost every film.

Our list of the top 10 overpaid celebrities is rife with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Tom Cruise ranks third with a $4 return for every dollar he was paid mostly because of last year's stinker Lions for Lambs, which Cruise's studio, United Artists, produced. For every dollar the star earned the film returned only $1.88.

Cameron Diaz may be the highest-paid actress in Hollywood, with $50 million in income between June 2006 and June 2007, but studios might want to question whether she's worth the money. Her films returned a lowly $4 for every dollar Diaz earned.

In general, actors who earned under $10 million per picture did better on our list. The one exception was Jennifer Garner. Her recent big-budget films, like The Kingdom and Catch and Release, have underperformed at the box office so badly that even her low salary couldn't offer a good return on investment. For every dollar Garner was paid to star in the 2006 romantic comedy Catch and Release, the film earned 34 cents.

Aussie Russell Crowe wins this year's award for most improved. The actor was the most overpaid celebrity last year, earning movies like Cinderella Man $5 for every dollar he was paid. (Kidman came in second.) This year Crowe was the 18th best earner on our list with a return of $6.88 for every dollar he earned.

The bump can be attributed to last year's American Gangster, which grossed $265 million in worldwide box office. Crowe returned a healthy $10.80 for every dollar he was paid on the film, bringing his ultimate payback number up to $6.88. Countryman Kidman could use a little of that good mojo this fall.

List from #1 to #10...Nicole Most overpaid based on algorithm.

Nicole Kidman

Kidman has an Oscar and earns $15 million paydays, but she's proved to offer a poor return on investment. Despite bringing in $370 million in worldwide box office, The Golden Compass only grossed $3.36 for every dollar Kidman was paid. The Invasion lost $2.68 for every dollar that went to Kidman. She has a chance for a high-profile comeback with this fall's epic Australia, which could earn the Aussie her third best actress nomination.

For every dollar she was paid, Nicole Kidman's movies averaged $1 of gross income

Jennifer Garner

Garner has stayed fairly under the radar since her 2005 big-budget disaster Elektra, which cost $40 million to make and earned only $56 million worldwide. Unfortunately for Garner her follow-up films didn't do much better. Both Catch and Release and The Kingdom underperformed at the box office.

For every dollar she was paid, Jennifer Garner's movies averaged $3.60 of gross income.

Tom Cruise

His recent cameo as a foul-mouthed studio exec in Tropic Thunder is earning raves and might usher in the era of Tom Cruise comedies. In the meantime, Cruise has to deal with the fallout from his recent dramatic blunder, Lions for Lambs. The film's box office ($63 million worldwide) was bad enough that even without taking any upfront pay Cruise still earned the movie only $1.88 for every dollar he was paid.

For every dollar he was paid, Tom Cruise's movies averaged $4 of gross income.

Cameron Diaz

The highest paid actress in Hollywood, Diaz pulled in $50 million last year. But her high salary makes it hard for the romantic comedies she stars in to earn a good return. The Holiday brought in $205 million worldwide but Diaz's high payday meant the film only grossed $3.70 for every dollar Diaz was paid.

For every dollar she was paid, Cameron Diaz's movies averaged $4 of gross income.

Jennifer Lopez

The singer/actress/designer has struggled at the box office for the past few years, choosing small projects like 2006's El Cantante, a low-budget musical biopic starring her husband Marc Anthony, which barely registered at the box office. Her last big film was 2005's Monster-in-Law, which grossed $155 million worldwide returning $6.85 for every dollar Lopez was paid.

For every dollar she was paid, Jennifer Lopez's movies averaged $4.10 of gross income.

Jim Carrey

Long gone are the days when Carrey could attract crowds with his talking backside. The actor's latest attempt at a serious film, last year's The Number 23, flopped at the box office, earning only $77 million worldwide. Carrey has a chance to turn things around with this winter's Yes Man. Carrey has so much faith in the comedy that he reportedly took no money upfront for his starring performance.

For every dollar he was paid, Jim Carrey's movies averaged $4.11 of gross income

Nicolas Cage

2007 was a year of highs and lows for Nicolas Cage. Book of Secrets, the sequel to Cage's 2004 hit National Treasure, grossed $456 million worldwide. The sci-fi thriller Next, released that spring, brought in only $73 million. The movie lost 50 cents for every dollar Cage was paid.

For every dollar he was paid, Nicolas Cage's movies averaged $4.16 of gross income.

Drew Barrymore

Barrymore has been unlucky at the box office recently despite the title of her last film: Lucky You. The movie grossed a mere $8 million in worldwide box office, which means it lost 17 cents for every dollar Barrymore was paid. Maybe that's why she's taking a bigger role behind the camera. She's currently directing her first film, Whip It!, about a female roller derby league.

For every dollar she was paid, Drew Barrymore's movies averaged $4.38 of gross income.

Will Ferrell

The former Saturday Night Live star did well with high-grossing comedies like Blades of Glory. The sports tale grossed $4.95 for every dollar Ferrell was paid. But he stumbled with his more serious turn in 2006's Stranger Than Fiction, which grossed $53 million in worldwide box office, only $1.63 for every dollar Ferrell was paid.

For every dollar he was paid, Will Ferrell's movies averaged $4.67 of gross income.

Cate Blanchett

The actress is better known for her acting skills than her box office draw. She has been nominated for five Oscars. But she stumbled in our list with her 2003 movie The Missing, which earned only $38 million in worldwide box office but cost approximately $65 million to produce. For every dollar Blanchett was paid, the film lost $2.94. She did better with Babel, in which she played Brad Pitt's injured wife. The film grossed $135 million worldwide, $13.20 for every dollar Blanchett earned.

For every dollar she was paid, Cate Blanchett's movies averaged $4.97 of gross income.

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I cannot believe that Ben Affleck is not on this list.

BTW, I'm looking forward to Mickey Rourke's 'comeback' in The Wrestler.

oh i can assure ypu that he is in Top 20 based on algorithm :D

what probably saved him is that his flicks from last 3 yeras have been big studio, but pretty low budget,,no huge budget flicks...

Ya, rourkes semes to have hit a homer at cannes,,but thats doesnt alwyas translate to success in US..it does for US Indie crowd, but mainstream US crowd sometimes snubs cannes hits..

i will definitly go...

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With HD cameras becoming the norm, Cameron Diaz's acne-scarred face is now worthless.

Cate Blanchett is in all these arty (that POS Bob Dylan flick)movied that aren't that expensive, and English period movies,("Elizabeth") which are expensive striclty due to costumes and sets, not necessarily her salary. WGAF?

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With HD cameras becoming the norm, Cameron Diaz's acne-scarred face is now worthless.

Cate Blanchett is in all these arty (that POS Bob Dylan flick)movied that aren't that expensive, and English period movies,("Elizabeth") which are expensive striclty due to costumes and sets, not necessarily her salary. WGAF?

:rl:

good point on diaz,,,yuck......

and I LOVE artsy movies as u know, BUT, damn, that dylan flick sucked and Blanchett got great reviews but Ithought her portrayal was awful..............

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