How Movie Stars Negotiate Salaries

Movie stars make a lot of money – a fact you probably know about. More than me, of course, and probably more than you.

How do they make all this money? Like big athletes and musicians who, moreover, earn significantly more than you and me, they have agents who negotiate for them. On the front, on the back, and probably in the middle too.

Vanity Fair has a good breakdown of the main ways their agents negotiate for them with a quote system that you can use to impress people at your Oscar viewing party:

  • The actor’s quote is “the base number of zeros needed for outstanding talent to emerge on set – short for film creatives.” This is the actor’s starting award (usually in the millions) for the film, based on his or her previous work. Someone like Mark Wahlberg, who starred in the franchise, gets a higher price tag (VF estimates it at $ 15 million) than someone like Michelle Williams, who is a much better actor but chooses more artistic and less budgetary films. But Wahlberg will take a lower price tag to star in a more prestigious film like All the Money in the World, for which his reportedly fixed salary was $ 3.5 million.
  • Agents can do an internal deal , the Holy Grail of which is called gross scores , which is a percentage of a film’s gross revenue, which is very difficult because Hollywood loves creative accounting .
  • Benefits include things like private jet travel, helpers, hotel rooms, and more.
  • The kick is usually a six-figure bonus that is added to an actor’s quote when his agent can’t get him perks like a private jet (horror). This could help boost their future quotes.

Here’s how something can break at a big star:

Another Sony email leaked discussing full compensation for Will Smith for the film, dubbed ” Concussion,” shattered his point of view, citing a $ 15 million quote and an additional $ 5 million in bonuses tied to various worldwide box office grosses. And then there is his “2 million benefits.”

Who doesn’t want “2 million bonuses!” We have free bagels here every Monday ( with sucker) and lunch on Wednesdays, so I won’t complain too much. But “2m” would also be nice. I’m not Will Smith now, but Concussion grossed less than $ 50 million at the box office, of which $ 2 million went to Will Smith’s private jets and hotel rooms.

The stars also get paid for merchandising and broadcasting, and if their agent is smart, if they have to do reshoots (recall that Wahlberg’s agent negotiated that he would receive much more money for reshoots than Williams’ agent: 1.5 million dollars versus less than $ 1000).

Again, this is for big time stars. Lower-level workers (team members, hairdressers and makeup artists, etc.) are paid at union rates. I suppose that while they get paid a lot less than the stars, they also get free bagels sometimes.

You can read more about Hollywood salaries here .


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