The money and star power is the same for Netflix as they have been for the movie studios: If you bring a crowd and sell your movies to the masses, you get top dollar. For Netflix, though, the secret isn’t in the blockbuster box office money collection but in how many monthly subscriptions it will sign up and get as a result. That’s a number that is calculated using Netflix’s wealth trove of proprietary data, which includes the number of times a movie is streamed and the number of repeat viewings.
Netflix spent more than any studio on Hollywood’s leading men, is expected to spend more than $17 billion on just new programming this year. Apple TV+ is planning to release more than $30 million to snag Reynolds (No. 2, $71.5 million) for A Christmas Carol, and Amazon is paying Akshay Kumar (No. 6. on the list, $48.5 million) $10 million for his role in an upcoming TV series.
“It’s no longer wholly art or wholly science,” says Mike Bloxham, an expert of entertainment at research firm Magid, relating to the strategies that studios and streamers use to decide paychecks. “It’s very much alchemy, and it’s becoming more alchemical as we move forward and more data becomes available.”
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The Rock tops the list of the most highest-paid actor of 2020 for the second year in a row, thanks to a $23.5 million check from Netflix for the upcoming film Red Notice and his triumphant Under Armour line, Project Rock.
Netflix’s current golden boy, Reynolds made more than $20 million apiece on Six Underground and Red Notice. In July, the streamer revealed it was shelling out for a third Reynolds movie, which will surely mean another eight-figure payout.
Wahlberg’s action-comedy Spenser Confidential became Netflix’s third-most-watched original movie after it released in March. He’s also made millions producing docuseries McMillions and Wahl Street.
After a brief hiatus, Affleck is back to the big screen this year, starring in The Way Back and Netflix’s The Last Thing He Wanted.
The F9 star missed out on the chance to collect a huge back-end payday this year after the movie’s release was delayed to April 2021. He kept the franchise embers burning by acting as producer on the animated Netflix series Fast & Furious Spy Racers.
He is the only Bollywood star on the list, Akshay Kumar is working on his first television series The End for Amazon Prime. Most of his money comes from endorsement contracts; he sells everything from multivitamins to toilet cleaners.
Disney got worldwide movie rights to the original Broadway production of Hamilton for $75 million this year, putting Miranda on the list for the first time ever. Even with Broadway closed for the most part of 2020, he can expect another big check next year when the movie version of In the Heights hits the theaters.
Will Smith earns big checks for lead parts, such as his future role in King Richard, in which he portrays Richard Williams, father of tennis greats Serena and Venus. He packs the earnings gaps with mobile phone hits, a Snapchat series and his famous Instagram account.
The comedian got lucky at Netflix. In January, he signed one more deal to make another four more movies for the streaming giant after his film Murder Mystery became one of the streamer’s most-famous movies of all time.
After the Six decades of career, the martial arts star is as active as ever, he made five movies in the past year. He pads his movie income with millions from endorsements and licensing contracts.