Forbes came out with their top earning actresses list yesterday, and the top earning actors list today. While yesterday Deepika was the only Indian news, today there are FOUR Indian actors on the list. Plus Jackie Chan right at the top at number 2. So, yeah, Hollywood watch out! Asia is coming for you! (also, Shahrukh is the highest Indian on the list! Woot-woot!)
At number 18 (ahead of Matthew McConaughey and Harrison Ford), Amitabh Bachchan! With an income of 20 million! Despite having no real hits in ages, he is still working A LOT and getting paid high prices for his films. More importantly (I suspect), he is doing tons and tons of ads. From various interviews and so on, my impression is that industry policy is to gauge the advertising companies for maximum dollar, knock out those ads at a rate of 5 a day, and take it all to the bank. Whereas choosing to do a film is more of an artistic decision, and the salary will be balanced against other considerations. Although, there is still a financial motivation, in that appearing in a number of highly publicized films makes your name and brand more valuable.
(also, I really hope this will stop people from saying Amitabh is “sort of the Indian Harrison Ford”, since at least in terms of earning, it is clearly “Harrison Ford is sort of the American Amitabh Bachchan”. But there is probably no objective measure that will stop the American press from being stupid about Indian film stars)
And then there’s Salman, at 28.5 million and number 14. Just ahead of Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s kind of low, actually, considering how big his last few movies have been. I wonder if he opted for a flat rate instead of part of the back end? Bad decision, Salman! If that was his policy, and he changed it and is getting a chunk of the Sultan gross, I bet he leaps into the top ten of next year’s list.
And then there’s Akshay, tying with Brad Pitt at number 10, earning 31.5 million last year. Now, Akshay has been taking the back end gross deal for possibly longer than anyone. And that, combined with the high number of releases he always does, means that he is squeezing out every penny from his releases. Plus, since he is focused on the back end and always has another release going down the road, it’s made him more pragmatic about profits. No need to waste the investment on tons of screens and elaborate promotions and big name stars and expensive song sequences to try to make this the biggest hit in the history of film, keep it a little smaller than that, and make more money off your 3 smaller hits than Salman made out of his big big film.
(Puppies! He really does know how to read an audience)
And finally, SHAHRUKH!!! Tying with Robert Downey Jr. at 33 million. Now, remember, no matter how dire the reports were at the time, Dilwale made lots and lots of money. And Shahrukh distributed it himself, so he was right in there getting a cut of every ticket. Yes, it made less than the highest projections, and Shahrukh paid the other distributors back for their loss, but overall, LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY.
(His Mango is very Frooti)
And that’s on top of his brand endorsements, his public appearance fees, his corporation earnings, IPL, etc. etc.
But, while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Salman zoom higher next year with Sultan back end profits, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Shahrukh drop a lot lower, with the failure of Fan, and the (I am assuming) lower box office for the less crowd pleasing films Dear Zindagi and Raees.
Here is the whole Forbes list, with the non-Hollywood stars highlighted:
1. Dwayne Johnson 64 Million
2. Jackie Chan 61 Million
3. Matt Damon 55 Million
4. Tom Cruise 53 Million
5. Johnny Depp 48 Million
6. Ben Affleck 43 Million
7. Vin Diesel 35 million
8. Shahrukh Khan 33 million
9. Robert Downey, Jr. 33 million
10. Akshay Kumar 31.5 million
11. Brad Pitt 31.5 million
12. Adam Sandler 30 million
13. Mark Wahlberg 30 million
14. Salman Khan 28.5 million
15. Leonardo DiCaprio 27 million
16. Chris Pratt 26 million
17. Will Smith 20.5 million
18. Amitabh Bachchan 20 million
19. Matthew McConaughey 18 million
10. Harrison Ford 15 million