For every Avatar and Titanic, there is an Ishtar and Gigli. Nothing is more shocking for a Hollywood producer than to pay a star a ton of money, only to get almost nothing in return if the movie flops. Maybe it is time for these producers to use some accounting tools before hiring big-name stars. An actor’s return on investment can actually be computed using as basis the box office profits of his last three movies as against the salary paid. Based on that, we will know who the most reliable actors are. On the flip side of the coin, we will also get to know who the top ten most overpaid stars of Hollywood are.
1. Eddie Murphy – $2.30 ROI for every dollar paid
Eddie Murphy is an actor, writer, singer, director and stand up comedian who hit it big during the 80s with such movies as Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places and 48 Hours. Artistically, he reached a high in 2007 when he won a Golden Globe and got an Academy Award nomination for his supporting performance in the movie Dreamgirls. While he has found success as a voice actor in various animation movies, his recent non-animated films have all flopped in the box office. Meet Dave, A Thousand Words and Imagine That all bombed. It seems like the audience just does not find him funny anymore.
2. Katherine Heigl – $3.40 ROI for every dollar paid
She has been around since the 90s, but Heigl became known initially in the television series Roswell. She then became more popular in the hit series, Grey’s Anatomy, essaying the role of an intern surgeon. She won an Emmy Award for this. She then made the transition to the big screen, scoring with hits like Knocked Up and 27 Dresses. Her recent films have not earned that well, however. One for the Money took in a dreadful $37 million. She surely will have to take a pay cut next time around.
3. Reese Witherspoon – $3.90 ROI for every dollar paid
She has been acting since she was 15, and she has appeared in hit movies like Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama. She also received multiple acting honors, including the Academy Award, for her 2005 portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. Those days seem to be such a long time ago, as Witherspoon’s recent movies have failed to generate big bucks. Her movie How Do You Know had a budget of $120 million, but only took in $50 million.
4. Sandra Bullock – $5 ROI for every dollar paid
She was in such hits like Speed, and also in critically acclaimed movies like Crash and The Blind Side, which earned for her an Academy Award in 2009. Her asking price rose to an astounding $56 million, as a result. Alas, some of her recent films have gone unnoticed, with All About Steve bombing big time at the box office.
5. Jack Black – $5.20 ROI for every dollar paid
He is a funny guy who knows how to rock. Black has starred in movies that got decent numbers, like School of Rock, Year One and King Kong. His voice has also been used for animated films like Kung Fu Panda. Surely, appearing in a movie with Owen Wilson and Steve Martin would do no harm to his career. The three combined in The Big Year, a movie about bird watching. With a budget of $40 million and three fairly established stars, recouping the money should be easy. It turned out to be a big flop, however, as moviegoers found it as uninteresting as watching birds. It only earned $7 million.
6. Nicolas Cage – $6 ROI for every dollar paid
He already has a Best Actor award when he won for Leaving Las Vegas in the mid 90s. He has proven his mettle in such hits as Face Off and National Treasure. And Cage has been busy as a bee, filming several movies each year aside from lending his voice to several animated films. Most of the films have flopped, however, with Drive Angry earning only $29 million at the tills. Producers will probably drive away angry from Cage next time around.
7. Adam Sandler – $6.30 ROI for every dollar paid
He gets paid around $20 million for every movie. So long as it earns like The Wedding Singer, Grown Ups and 50 First Dates, there is no problem with that. But one bomb and an actor’s return on investment will surely take a hit. This is what happened to Sandler, whose gains were wiped off by the poor performance of the 2010 film Jack and Jill at the box office.
8. Denzel Washington – $6.30 ROI for every dollar paid
While Washington’s movies may not be exactly flops, but his $20 million rate may be hard on a producer’s return on investment. He has taken in that amount since 2003 when he did Out of Time. Washington has since taken a different tack in order to help a producer’s bottom line. He now accepts a much lower upfront payment, provided he gets a bigger share of a movie’s profits. And the move seems to have paid off. His last movie has already earned three times its budget.
9. Ben Stiller – $6.50 ROI for every dollar paid
Stiller is an actor and director who has appeared in movies like Reality Bites, Zoolander, Meet the Parents, Night at the Museum and Tropic Thunder. His stock has risen because of these hits. Like Washington, his high rate has affected his return on investment. His last movie, Tower Heist, actually made decent sales with box office revenues of $153 million. But it needed almost half that amount to make, thus denting the bottom line.
10. Sarah Jessica Parker – $7 ROI for every dollar paid
Parker is a television star who made it big with Sex and the City. The TV franchise was successfully moved to the big screen twice. Unfortunately, other than that, Parker’s movies have not really been earning that much. Seems like her fans prefer watching Carrie Bradshaw instead of Sarah Jessica Parker.