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The 10 most Overpaid Actors in Hollywood

by Eli Reyes

Forbes has put together a list of Hollywood's 10 Most Over Paid Actors. To qualify, each actor had to have starred in at least three movies over the last five years, that opened in more than 500 theaters. They looked at the 100 biggest stars in Hollywood, and then calculated a return-on-investment number for each star by dividing total operating income on the three films by the star's total compensation, including up-front salaries and earnings from DVD and TV sales.


This is right in line with Venkman's article on why Movies Don't Need A-List Actors, and our discussion on the subject in our latest Podcast.

Here's the list, beginning with the actor with the worst investment return.

# 1  Will Ferrell : For every $1 Ferrell was paid, his films earned an average $3.29.




Ferrell is one of the few Saturday Night Live stars to achieve real movie fame, thanks to films like Elf and Talladega Nights. The success of those comedies bumped up Ferrell's paycheck, but recently that has hurt his return-on-investment number. This summer's Land of the Lost flopped, earning only $65 million on an estimated budget of $100 million. That pushed Ferrell to the top of our overpaid list.


# 2 Ewan McGregor : For every $1 McGregor earned in a starring role his films brought in an average $3.75.




Although he appeared as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the three new Star Wars films, McGregor is not the kind of actor who earns $15 million paychecks. Unfortunately, his low pay couldn't protect him from landing second on our list, because his recent movies have performed so badly.




No. 3 Billy Bob Thornton : For every $1 Thornton was paid, his films earned an average $4.




Like McGregor, Thornton is one of the lower-paid actors on our list. He also suffers from a run of box office duds. His 2007 film Mr. Woodcock earned only $34 million; The Astronaut Farmer, from the same year, brought in just $11 million.


# 4 Eddie Murphy : For every $1 Murphy was paid, his films earned an average $4.43.




For a while, Murphy (the second SNL alum on our list) seemed like he could do no wrong in moderately budgeted family films. His updates of Dr. Doolittle and The Nutty Professor each earned $300 million and spawned successful sequels. But lately the Murphy magic seems to have dulled. His two most recent films, Meet Dave and Imagine That, were both box office bombs.


# 5 Ice Cube : For every $1 Ice Cube was paid, his films earned $4.77.




The hip-hop star has made a second career for himself as an actor in films like Are We There Yet? and Barbershop. Ice Cube earns a modest (by Hollywood standards) paycheck, but his recent films haven't performed very well. Last summer's The Longshots earned only $12 million.


# 6 Tom Cruise : For every $1 Cruise was paid, his films earned and an average $7.18.




For a long time, Cruise had one of the best deals in Hollywood: He earned almost nothing up front, but took a large chunk of the first-dollar gross. Good for Cruise, but not so good for the studios he worked with. Sometimes the star ended up making money while the studio was still in the red.


# 7 Drew Barrymore : For every $1 Barrymore was paid, her films earned an average $7.43.




The only actress on our list, Barrymore has had more luck lately as a producer than as an actress. February's He's Just Not That Into You, which Barrymore produced, was a surprise hit earning $178 million. But the actress only had a supporting role in that film. The 2007 film Lucky You, in which Barrymore starred, earned a mere $8 million at the worldwide box office.


# 8 Leonardo DiCaprio : For every $1 DiCaprio was paid, his movies earned an average $7.52.




The young actor earns big paychecks for playing in serious movies that don't always earn out. Last year's Revolutionary Road was a modest hit, earning $75 million on an estimated budget of $35 million. So was Body of Lies, which brought in $115 million on an estimated budget of $70 million. But modest hits aren't enough when your star is earning DiCaprio-sized paychecks.


# 9 Samuel L. Jackson : For every $1 Jackson was paid, his films earned an average $8.59.




As a supporting player, Jackson shines. But the prolific actor (he's appeared in seven movies over the last two years) has trouble carrying a film in the lead role. Recent films like Soul Man and Lakeview Terrace failed to wow at the box office.


No. 10 Jim Carrey : For every $1 Carrey was paid, his films earned an average $8.62.




The funnyman made a radical deal on his recent film Yes Man, which made him an investor in the movie and gave him a healthy return. His ROI number gets pulled down on this list because of films like The Number 23, which earned $77 million worldwide. When stars are earning as much as Carrey does, their movies have to hit it out of the ballpark.

I'm not surprised by many of the names on the list. I had no idea though that Will Ferrell's value had dropped so far. Drew Barrymore often serves as a producer on her films, so I imagine her #7 spot isn't as bad as it seems. The biggest surprise though... Ice Cube! He gets paid to act???

What do you think of the Most Overpaid actors in Hollywood?

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