Who are the richest men in Hollywood? The stars get most of the publicity—and very often, the cash—but not surprisingly, the producers are the ones who are laughing their way to the bank. For example, Shia LaBeouf only got paid $6 million for his role in ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.’ That’s spare change compared to director Michael Bay’s income of $125 million.
We also realized that once you have one big hit that reaches almost cult-level proportions of popularity, you’re made for life. Especially if you’re smart enough to milk the idea for all of its marketing opportunities—and collect, collect, collect on the blind loyalty of fans. Collectively, the people in this list took home $1.2 billion dollars, enough to pay the international debt of some small countries.
Richest Kid in Hollywood
The Harry Potter stars brought home the biggest paycheck in 2010. Daniel Radcliffe got $20 million (co-star Emma Watson bringing home $15 million). Interestingly, he got twice the paycheck of more veteran actors. For example, Robert Downey Jr. was only paid $10 million for his ‘Iron Man” sequel.
Better than Being an Office Drone
Years ago, Oren Peli was a computer programmer. Then he decided to shift to the film industry—seemed like a crazy choice, but it literally paid off. This director of ‘Paranormal Activity’ earned a pretty decent $22.5 million for his movie (which only cost around $10,000 to make, FYI).
‘Use the (merchandising) force, Luke!’
George Lucas, the producer, writer an director of the iconic series Star Wars, continues to earn big bucks on the merchandising rights of all his Star Wars characters. Back in 1977 nobody could tell how much that was worth—well, this year alone it gave Lucas $170 million in royalty.
Of course, Lucas isn’t a one-hit wonder. He teamed up with Steven Spielberg (who isn’t doing too bad himself) to create the blockbuster hit, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The guy just has a golden touch. This American film director and producer has done practically everything—Academy-award winning dramas (Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan), science-fiction and adventure films (including the cult classics Jaws, E.T. and Jurassic Park) and even video games. His movies from his 40-years in the industry has earned a total of $8.5 billion. This year alone, he earned $150 million. (Forbes believes that his total personal wealth is $3 billion.)
Jerry Bruckheimer found the proverbial treasure chest with his hit series, Pirates of the Carribean. The three movies have earned about $2.7 billion, and he’s earned quite a bit more from merchandising. Between movies, he keeps himself busy with a pretty profitable television empire—which, incidentally, includes another hit series, CSI, Without a Trace, and Cold Case. This year alone, Bruckheimer brought home a hefty $100 million.
Getting the Last Laugh
It’s been more than 10 years since the last episode of ‘Seinfeld’ aired, but Jerry Seinfeld—who wrote, produced and starred in the hit show—is still reaping the rewards. He earned $85 million in syndication fees in 2009 alone. Not bad about what he himself called ‘a show about nothing,’ but that ‘nothing’ sure does come with a lot of zeros and commas.
Oprah may have given this tough-talking life coach his big break, but Phil McGraw’s managed to take his 10 minutes of fame and spin an entire media empire from it. Aside from his own talk show, he also has several best selling books, talks and workshops, and other public engagements. He and his Jay also put together the successful show, ‘The Doctors.’
Considering how many careers Oprah has helped to launch (Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray, just to name a few) one wonders if she should start getting a cut-off from their billion-dollar earnings. Not that she needs it.