Robert Downey Jr. to Earn $50 Million from ‘The Avengers’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 23rd, 2013 at 9:49 am,

The Avengers is smashing box office records left, right and center – making a lot of money for Marvel, Disney and Paramount Pictures. The $220 million budgeted adventure (at the time of writing) is closing in on $400 million at the domestic box office and it has already racked-up over $1 billion dollars at the global box office.

Now, stop for a minute and think about how much of that money goes to the stars of the movie. If you’re Robert Downey Jr. then you could be looking at $50 million… minimum.

The Iron Man star is set to score a proverbial king’s ransom for the movie, much more than his co-stars, who will be getting significantly less. Marvel is famously known for “low balling “ talent when they’re negotiating deals for their superhero films – Mickey Rourke was offered just $250,000 for his role in Iron Man 2 - however, the studio does seem to be lavishing cash on Downey Jr. Following the success of Iron Man in 2008 (it banked $585 million worldwide); the actor’s agents renegotiated his deal so that he would receive profit participation in any future movies where he played Iron Man - allegedly 5 to 7 percent of the box office gross. It must have seemed like a sweet deal then but even sweeter now when the grosses are doubled.

The rest of the cast aren’t so lucky. Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson are said to be scoring an estimated $4 – 6 million apiece – once their upfront fee and box office bonus is combined. It’s still a lot of cash, but nothing compared to that of Robert Downey Jr. Meanwhile, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo will probably bank around $2 – 3 million each for their work on The Avengers. Again this is serious money – but not much when you take into account the billions of dollars the film will make once other ancillaries are added.

Usually, studios prefer not to give away any “first dollar points,” meaning that if a film makes, say $100 million at the box office, a “first dollar” person will score a percentage of that number. They usually prefer to pay out “net points,” meaning that the person will only get paid once it goes into profit after all deductions and costs have been taken away. Coming to America writer, Art Buchwald once famously filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures after the studio claimed that the Eddie Murphy starrer hadn’t made any net profit-even though it grossed $288 million worldwide. In 2010 Warner Bros, claimed that Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix was still $167 million in the red, after it had grossed $938.2 million globally.

Those who do manage to get first dollar gross participation often reap rich dividends. Johnny Depp is said to have made $250 million from the four Pirates of the Caribbean films, Michael Bay made $80 million from the first Transformers, while Jack Nicholson pocked $60 million for 1989’s Batman and Tom Cruise regularly takes home $75 million for his Mission: Impossible role.

They say that money makes the world go round. Well, it certainly keeps things going in Hollywood.

Source: THR

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TAGS: box office, the avengers

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  1. They should give the rest of the cast more money as a bonus seeing how much money this movie has made.

    • yes they should

    • I know we all work his where pay doesn’t always get distributed evenly among the staff. Bu when you’re dealing with numbers as big as The Avengers then it must be hard to just “suck it up”.

      $50M Downey
      $5M Johannson
      $3M Hemsworth / Evans (Who have the most physical roles)
      50k Stuntmen / FX People

      I know it sounds stupid to feel bad for actors but I wish that these successful movies would give bonuses for the talent involved from top to bottom instead of just lining execs pockets.

    • WHY?!?!?! Why on earth should they give the cast more money??? They got paid handsomely for their “work”. They risked none of their own money to make the movie. They didn’t write the movie. The people who RISKED money are the ones who should benefit the most. Are you going to say actors should give money back if a movie loses money? If not, then they have no right to get more money if the movie does well.

      • didn’t you use to be a former writer from themovieblog.com

      • I’m with John.

        I think people who say give the cast even more money have never run their own business where they put their own money at risk. The studio put up the money for this – how many movies cost $100 million or more and don’t come close to making it back? If a movie cost $100 million and only makes $30 million, they just lost $70 MILLION or 70% of their investment. Should the actors give back 70% of their salary for the film?

        Under what people are saying here I’d say “yes.”

        People talk about the “evil 1%” in the corporate world, but I’d say it’s a LOT more commonplace and just as extreme in the movie business.

        Vic

        • Agreed with John and Vic here.

        • John and Vic are right on the money.

          Hey, would Hulk say, “Pun-y human.”

          Money – pun-y, I almost have a gag going here. :)-

      • I don’t think they should give the cast more money overall, just a more evenly distributed share, where someone who has similar screen time as another actor doesn’t get 15-25 times more money. Sure RDJ was the most famous actor and possibly the biggest draw, but was he worth 25 times more than Cap or Thor? I don’t think he was. And how much did Tom Hiddleston make? I think he did the best job of all the actors and deserved a good share of the profits too.

      • Yeah you’re right. But to think that Iron Man gets 6 times what Captain America, Hulk and Thor (combined) will get is kind of unfair. They shouldn’t have published this! Very discomforting. I wish they can at least get a bonus or something.

  2. His agent negotiated him a great deal, he works hard, he is responsible for Marvel Studios being so successful, so yeah, I think he absolutely deserves it. Yes, it is a crazy amount of money, that most people can only dream of but this is a just reward IMO.

    • First, allow me to preface this with saying EVERYTHING in the entertainment industry is completely whack where it comes to money–compared to the real world that most of us live in.

      Having said that, the money that RDJ is getting is justifiable on several levels. First, he’s been in the business a LONG time and has paid his dues and then some. He didn’t just drop out of the sky yesterday and get showered with 50 million dollars. He’s earned it through years of incredible roles, the character of Tony Stark being one of the most entertaining and certainly one of the most lucrative in terms of box office.

      Marvel/Disney definitely realizes this; without Tony Stark, you don’t have Iron Man; without Iron Man, you don’t have the Avengers, because in reality, without the success of the Iron Man franchise, it is unlikely that the Avengers movie would have even been made. Tony Stark is a character that Stan Lee created on a challenge to make a hero that was unlikable, yet people had to end up liking him anyway despite being an arrogant, jerk. Downey accomplishes this task beautifully and then some with his portrayal of Tony Stark. It is unlikely that a less gifted actor could pull this off. Part of Downey’s own personality is what makes Stark charming and likable, while still being egotistical.

      Second, he’s obviously got an incredible agent and negotiating team who are able to make a deal like this for him. The fact that they came up with such a lucrative deal has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone else in the Avengers’ cast. Just because the other cast members don’t have the same negotiating power is no fault of Downey’s; furthermore, Downey is the biggest box-office draw in the cast by a landslide and currently heads up not one, but two movie franchises. Prior to the Avengers, much of the cast was fairly unknown in comparison (with the exceptions of Jackson, Johansson & Ruffalo). None of them so far has been proven to be able to open a movie to huge box office crowds. It’s got nothing to do with what’s “fair” or not. Fair is subjective and has nothing to do with capitalism or the entertainment industry in general.

      It’s not based on “Who needs that much money?”, or what’s “fair”. The bottom line is the bottom line, financially speaking, and whatever you can negotiate. Plus when you look at what Marvel/Disney is making largely as a result of Downey, he deserves to be rewarded accordingly. So far, this movie has pulled in over 1 billion dollars in only 2 weeks’ time; it will likely make much more than that, between box office, DVD sales, merchandising, etc. Compare all of that to what Downey is making and it’s not that insane, comparably speaking. In that case, it’s only fair that he gets a share of that.

      Personally, as far as feeling sorry for anyone in the cast who ONLY made 3 million dollars—ROFL!!!–BOO HOO. Yeah, it’s small compared to 50+ million, but it’s a lot more than people in the real world make. Then again, we’re not talking about the real world here, but still, it’s up to the actors’ agents to figure out how much they can get their clients. So far, I’ve yet to hear about any complaints from the rest of the cast–no one’s come up with any resentment over it from what I’ve seen. If they do—hey, not Downey’s fault. In Marvel’s case, Downey is worth every penny.

  3. While I do agree here that the discrepancy in income received from the success of the film is large, I think that Robert Downey should definitely be in the lead as far as taking in the cake for the film.
    Let’s face it, Iron Man is the most popular Avenger, and Robert Downey is the best and most widely appreciated actor on the film (Sam Jackson is the 2nd closest imo)..
    Having a character like Iron Man in this film def helped this Avengers series of films get off on the right foot, and for that Downey deserves his pay.

    However going forward, paying Downey this much money is insane.
    The film and the actors are now popular one way or the other and all the other actors will want more money, probably at least double what they got in the first flick.
    If Downey is not willing to compromise on the sequels and take a pay cut I’d scrap him and bring in Don Cheadle and his War machine charater.

    I think it will be interesting to see how the Avengers “Assemble” the second time around…

    • I don’t think he will mind taking a pay cut, he seems like the kind of actor that would gladly take a pay cut if it was for a film he really wanted to do.
      Plus, I don’t think he, or Marvel, were expecting it to be this much. As I understand it this 50 million is worked on a percentage of the films earnings, which were considerably higher than anticipated.

  4. Im a big time RDJ fan and part of the main reason why I went to go see the avengers was because of IM. its good that he will make all that money for pulling that character really well but I think the rest of the cast deserve some of the pie also for there effort for bringing together such a great movie. Cheers!

  5. I will NEVER feel badly for anyone making $3 million on a movie they risked NOTHING on. The only way I’d ever give first dollar to an actor is if they agreed to give a portion of their up front money back to me if the movie lost money.

    • I agree with you. $3 million is more that 99% of people will ever see. However, everything is relative. Imagine working at McDonald’s making $8 an hour to make the food. Meanwhile, the girl at the front counter is making $40 an hour. Does that seem fair?

      • This is not a good comparison. The role that RDJ has played in launching the franchise is considerably different than a Scarlett Johanson, or even a Chris Evans/Hemsworth.

        It’s not like they are all working at McDonald’s making the same contribution to the success of the venture. RDJ has played a very different role, and with that came room to negotiate a better deal. There is nothing unfair about this, in my opinion.

    • Welcome to Screen Rant John i await your regular contributions just like the old days.

    • Thank god there is someone like you on here who understands the way capitalism actually works. Everyone feels entitled in this day and age. If you don’t risk the money then you get what is agreed to. If they want to give the actors a bonus b/c it did so well, that’s up to them. It might buy them some good will but they certainly don’t need to be fair. This isn’t a communist country. Now, because of the success the actors can negotiate higher wages later. RDJ was the pioneer actor in this saga, and he is also the smartest and most well-versed in the acting world compared to all these others except maybe Sam Jackson.

  6. Well, IMO RDJ is one of the main reasons why ALL THIS has been so successful. He’s pretty much the “face of Marvel movies”, he does a great job in every movie he’s in and (according to him) he’s acted as a producer in the IM movies (even though he isn’t credited as one).
    Without RDJ’s Iron Man, this entire en devour might not have happened; or at the very least, it would have turned out very, very differently.

    That said, this is a LOT of money and considering the rest of the cast did an amazing job as well (IMO, many of the cast members did an even better job than RDJ), it does seem unfair that he’s receiving more than 10 fold of what they’re receiving.

    That is, IF this rumor is even true…

  7. I think we should also take into account that RDJ’s contract with Marvel Studios will be over when IM3 is done (he only signed a 4 picture deal as I recall), so this cash might very well act as the reason for RDJ to stick around, sign a new contract and do a few more movies.
    Then again, he doesn’t seem like the type of guy who’s only interested in the money: I think he’s proven that he does care about the character and that he’d happily make more movies if it looks good.

    • Actually, I thought it was 6. He has technically already (or will with IM3) hit more than 4 marvel movies – IM, TIH, IM2, TA, IM3…

      • I was under the impression that his IH cameo didn’t count, but whatever…
        As long as he keep playing Tony Stark, I’m happy :D

        • Yes it counts. Chris Evans explained appearances in other characters’ movies are considered in the number of films he is contractually obligated to. I imagine the same goes for RDJ and his appearances. If he’s playing Tony Stark, even if it’s just a 30 second cameo, it is counted as one of his obligated movies.

          • I know that’s how it GENERALLY works (Sam Jackson for instance was signed for 9 movies and each of his cameos still counted as a movie), but I just remember reading somewhere that RDJ’s cameo in TIH was an exception (i.e. it wasn’t part of his contract – they payed him extra to come on set for the day and shoot the scene).

            • Meh – like you said, I don’t care either way as long as he keeps playing Stark. Anytime I think of IM or see anything related to IM, I realize he was perfectly cast and I only see RDJ as IM now.

  8. Wow!!!!Thank god were not in a recession !!!!!!!!!

  9. No wonder he is smiling!! It would take the Hulk to lift this guys wallet

  10. I think we should all meet as Shwarma and talk about it over lunch! RDJ is buying.. He apparently made enough money…

    BOOM!

  11. how much did Kevin Feige make? (for you who have been living under a rock, he’s the President of Production for Marvel Studios)…
    Avi Arad, CEO of Marvel Studios?

    I’m sure both of these trump RDJ’s take.

    how about Stan Lee? (the f’in creator of the Avengers!) i’m sure he made much less than $3 million…

    • actually, i read in an article, that stan lee, received nothing from the movie

      • Yeah, I’ve heard Stan Lee doesn’t get as much as people would think. He gets some sort of producer credit but that’s about it.

  12. Robert Downey Jr. is good, but this movie was an ensemble effort. They all had equal parts. Equal parts for equal pay. What about the Loki played by Hiddleston, he was very good as the villain, and he was the whole reason the Avengers had to assemble in the first place. What about Ruffalo, he had to play two roles Banner and the Hulk as Motion Capture maybe he should get paid twice. I guess it is just left up to the Motion Studios decision for whose more valuable, Iron man makes huge money at the box office so they gave him more money.

    • “Equal parts for equal pay.”

      Greece says, “Hi. Welcome aboard.”

      • Ha! Zing!

    • It comes down to your career’s. Not your role in the particular film.
      Maybe not always SHOULD be that way, but it is.
      It prevents Disney having to pay Taylor Kitsch $20 mil when they try and start a “John Carter” franchise.
      But at the same time it allows cameo’s to make more then lead roles.
      Like it’s been stated on here, Downey has two franchises going as the lead.(IM, Sherlock)
      Only Renner, Jackson, and Johannson have been the lead role in a Non-Marvel film out of the entire Avengers cast.
      Hence why those 4 got the majority of the higher salaries out of the entire cast.
      Even Ruffalo who has had a lengthy career, with the lack of many BIG roles in his past, and this being his first time playing HULK, he gets shoved in the pile.
      It all makes sense.
      And HUGE props to RDJ, for getting that contract changed BEFORE The Avengers, unlike the rest of the cast who are probably having their agents call Disney/Marvel right now. haha.

      • Evan’s has been the lead in several movies outside of Marvel, none have been as successful mind you, but he has been the main/lead actor many times.

        • The only 5 films I can remember Evans having a lead role in…

          Fantastic Four 1 and 2 (Both Marvel)
          Cellular
          London
          The Perfect Score

          None of which were made in the past 6 years.

          Downey’s last 5 Non Marvel/Sherlock films…

          Due Date
          The Soloist
          Tropic Thunder
          Charlie Bartlett
          Zodiac

          The films don’t even compare in relevance or box office numbers.
          When I say Evans hasn’t been a “lead in anything” I mean he hasn’t done anything of relevance, hence Disney/Marvel have no real reason to pay him. They could at anytime replace Chris Evans as Captain America, they CAN’T just replace Robert Downey, Jr.

          • I think the Sherlock Holmes movies have made a decent amount of money too. Although they came after IM, of course, they still do add pocket book power, I think.

    • they all signed contracts agreeing to what they get paid for however many films they are going to be in. nobody put a gun to there head. they should have asked for some kind of bonus clause or whatever. RDJ obviously has the better agent and got him the good deal. the others agreed to what their contracts are and thats all i have to say about that!

      • But the thing is… most of those guys signed the contracts when they were still “unknown” (Hemsworth and Hiddleston immediately comes to mind – even Evans wasn’t really that well known) but lately they’ve been all over the place: Hemsworth was in CitW and he’ll be in SWATH as well and Hiddleston has been in so many movie recently I can’t even name them all – my point is, those guys are famous now, but they’ll probably be getting less money from Marvel than they will be getting from other movies that they do now.

        I think quite a few contracts will be renegotiated after the success of The Avengers…

  13. I think he deserves it. He’s the one bankable star in the ensemble and he has another franchise with Sherlock Holmes. The Iron Man franchise got the ball rolling and he was smart in getting a percentage plus that was a better deal for Marvel instead of just paying him 20 to 30 million upfront. Now, what isn’t right is how Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp reportedly got paid $20 million each to make “The Tourist”. That’s ridiculous.

  14. Wow!
    I say if he was smart enough to rework his deal in advance and this was the result good for him. I can’t hate the guy for it.
    I remember a story about James Cameron after Titanic broke box office records receiving a $100 million bonus from the studio. He gave up his initial salary because the film was so far over budget and the studio was freaking out so he did want he could to cut costs.
    Not to shabby ha?

  15. Yay for him? I have nothing against RDJ (or any of the actors) making money but this is just something we really don’t need to know.

    • I don’t think it’s good for ANYONE to know…
      Can you imagine how the other actors (like Evans, Ruffalo, Johansson, Jackson, etc.) will feel when they hear about this? – I think quite a few calls will be made to quite a few agents ;)

      • But if they whine and act like little babies *cough* Terrence Howard *cough*, they can be replaced and probably pretty quickly. Oh, that tempting dollar sign that the Marvel actors have before them with continued features and appearances.

  16. Wow… Robert Downey Jr. is certainly living the Tony Stark millions for real now. Wonder if the rest of the Avengers cast feel envious of his percentage take.

    Nice to see Mr. Campea here.. Wonder if he could go back and “guest comment” on themovieblog.com website that he famously ran a few years back.

  17. Who should get payed most based on performance in Avengers.

    Robert Downey Jr.
    Tom Hiddleston
    Chris Hemsworth
    Scarlett Johannson(tie)
    Mark Ruffalo(tie)
    Chris Evans
    Jeremy Renner
    Samuel L. Jackson

  18. Will Smith regularly takes home $50-100+ million per role.
    It’s ridiculous.

  19. I’m sure all of this is worked out before filming starts. Good for him. Most of the cast is signed up for the long term so this probably will continue into Avengers 2.

  20. Do you really blame RDJ? One of the rules in Hollywood is if an actor has a track record of box office success, chances are he would command a huge fee. Look at Tom Cruise and Will Smith or Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks who reportedly deferred their fees for Saving Private Ryan in exchange for gross pay. RDJ’s recent track record speaks for itself. Plus, his charism helps too.

  21. This makes me feel a little sick to be perfectly honest. Who needs that much money? Their are people, families that can’t even afford to put dinner on the table for their children every night. Sometimes the parents starve themselves to death just so their children can eat, and here we are with someone earning $50,000,000 for ONE job. That’s more money then most of us will see in a lifetime. I have nothing against Robert, I like him as an actor, but that is too much money for one person in my opinion. If that was me, I’d keep enough to feel comfortable, maybe like 2 – 3 million and then I would give the rest to charities and other people who need the money more than I do. What kind of world do we live in?

    “If you wish to seek the guilty, you need only to look into a mirror.”

    • Would you rather one of the biggest if not THE BIGGEST star in the film get that $50 million or a suit sitting in his office.
      Please, be smart when you comment on this.
      Nobody NEEDS $50 mil.
      We all know this already.
      If we wanted to be reminded about starving children we’d sit at home and watch the news all day.
      Instead film companies find ways to entertain us and distract us from these terrible things in life that you feel the need to remind us about on here.
      They invested millions on top millions into this, and you know what, EVERYBODY went to see it.
      Those who worked their asses off on this ONE job deserve to be reimbursed.
      Also, RDJ has worked his ass off for YEARS to get to a point where he can negotiate a pay like this.
      It didn’t just happen over a 30 second conversation.
      Take your Envy somewhere else.

      • I think he has a point, the world is unfair when there are such extremes of wealth and poverty.

        People who just want to stick their head in the sand and ignore it aren’t helping the problem go away. What if you were one of those starving families? I think you’d have a harder time encouraging people to just go see movies and give actors more than they could reasonably spend and forget about your suffering.

        I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be entertained. There’s definitely a place in the world for watching movies and not thinking about life for a few moments (which is why I come to this site), but we shouldn’t attack someone for pointing out the injustices in the system. To a degree, I think that’s what the article was about any way, injustice.

      • Exactly what the poster has said below me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be entertained at all, because we should take what like throws at us and enjoy it. But also, we can’t just ignore the fact that there are people less fortunate than ourselves out there. And like Pedram said, put yourself in the shoes of those families, they probably don’t even know what the inside of a cinema looks like… don’t they deserve the same entertainment that we get? Are they not human beings just like us? The world is cruel and the issue is money. Money controls how we feel, what we say, what we think and what we do. I know several people that have next to no money, but they’re some of the most appreciative people you’ll likely to ever meet. Money doesn’t make a person. Morals do. Ethics do. F**k the System!

    • i agree that it is an insane amount of money, but the fact is they are getting paid by us as consumers. we don’t have to go see or rent or buy movies. we can watch them for free on tv eventually. we choose to do this. they are not making me go see their movies. they aren’t being a bunch of bernie madof’s and ripping us off. so if they get paid lottery winnings for each movie they make, good for them i guess. they got the breaks. i know most celebrities give lots to charities. look what brad pitt did for Louisanna after katrina, and all the stars showing up at these disaster telethons and such, plus EVERY single second of their lives is pretty much public knowledge. i don’t see how they stand all that crap, but i guess 50 mil would make it easier :)

      • …Stoopid fat non-typing fingers! * Louisiana

    • Who says he won’t be giving some of that money to charity though? (Im sure he will)
      Lots of rich people give money to charities but they just don’t make such a big deal about it (throwing fundraiser parties or building schools in other countries with their names plastered on the buildings – that’s pretentious IMO)
      Some of these guys just send out checks (that’s what I would do).
      Plus, when you think about what stars like RDJ had to sacrifice to get this money (their freedom, their privacy)… it doesn’t seem THAT unfair.

      It’s still a crazy amount of money though… that I can agree with.

      • He might even have plans to help produce Marvel features in the future, for all anyone knows, which would be pretty cool :P

        • Dude, RDJ is already pretty much a producer for the IM movies! ;)
          He was heavily involved in the making of IM1 & 2 (not just an actor playing a role – he had significant input) and he also co-wrote the script for IM3 apparently.

  22. WORTH EVERY PENNY. There’s no replacing RDJ for Tony Stark…

  23. Honestly if not for Robert Downey Jr. I extremely doubt that the Avengers movie would have ever been made – much less be the successful film it is right now. He deserves the lion’s share.

    • That being said, I certainly hope he doesn’t fall back into bad habits!

      • “Cocaine’s a helluva drug.”
        -Rick James

        I wonder what “Jarvis” would be like on Coke?

        • Jarvis is a computer program in the movie, I’m pretty sure he can’t do coke.

          • Thank you for pointing that out to me.
            I now know this and am that much smarter because of you.

  24. HE DESERVES EVERY PENNY OF THAT 50 MILLION AND MORE. The man has yet to fail in his rolls and he’s one of the best actors in Hollywood. I would rate him in the top 10 actors of the decade!! (hint hint: Screenrant). From Sherlock Holmes to Iron Man and now the Avengers, He’s becoming a legend and he deserves it all. In the Avengers, Iron Man and The Hulk were the best in there!!! The other actors as their superhero role did well too, but Iron Man and The Hulk just owned that movie. I’m surprised by Mark Ruffalo being a good Hulk. I thought Edward Norton deserved the role of Hulk, but great job Mark Ruffalo.

  25. I remember when 50 million for the entire budget was considered going overboard on most movies. Just for schnats and giggles I wonder what that would break down to per hour for the time he actually spent at work?

  26. Download The Avengers Movie here http://j.gs/zaf

  27. Ya. He can now become iron man for real. Lol. http://hollywoodleek.com/2012/05/robert-downey-jr-pockets-enough-from-avengers-to-actually-become-iron-man/

  28. He took a percentage of the gross ….pretty smart.See what happens when you stop doing Heroin

  29. I wonder what Josh got paid.

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