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Hollywood's 10 Most Overpaid Actors

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | November 7, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | November 7, 2011 |

Thanks to the smallest non-holiday drop of all time for a wide release (a weensy 3 percent), Dreamworks Puss in Boots held on to the top spot at the weekend box office, making an impressive $33.4 million in its second weekend. The reasons for the small drop are in part due to the fact that many families didn’t make it out last weekend to see it because of Halloween and because of the snow storm in the Northeast, but also because of positive word of mouth, which is miraculously still a thing in a day and age where marketing usually shouts down any word of mouth, either positive or negative. The film has totaled $75 million so far, well on its way to $150 million or so.

Douche Ratner’s Tower Heist didn’t exactly benefit from his remarks about Olivia Munn, as the Eddie Murphy film managed a modest $25 million for second place this weekend, which in on par (ish) with openings for other Ben Stiller comedies. The film, surprisingly, received a B from Cinemascore (that’s not very good, given Cinemascore audience’s typical effusiveness).

Speaking of Eddie Murphy, he landed in second place in this year’s Forbes’ list of the most overpaid actors Hollywood. Murphy’s last three films made only $2.70 for every dollar that’s spent on Murphy, keeping in mind, however, that Forbes list does not include animated films in its calculations, reasoning that audiences don’t go for celebrity voices, which is at least debatable.

The list was topped by Drew Barrymore, although I’m skeptical of their reasons behind not including She’s Just Not That Into You among her counted films, reasoning that she wasn’t the draw (though, as I recall, she was an executive producer). They did, however, include Everybody’s Fine, which was a DeNiro film with a supporting role from Barrymore. Curious.

Here’s the most overpaid actors, and the return on investment per dollar.

1. Drew Barrymore: $0.40

2. Eddie Murphy: $2.70

3. Will Ferrell: $3.50

4. Reese Witherspoon: $3.55

5. Denzel Washington: $4.25

6. Nicolas Cage: $4.40

7. Adam Sandler: $5.20

8. Vince Vaughn: $5.20

9. Tom Cruise: $6.35

10. Nicole Kidman: $6.70

(Source: Forbes)

It’s kind of odd to call most of these actor “overpaid.” If I knew I’d get a $5 return on my $1 investment, I’d surely make that bet, even accounting for other costs. So if Tom Cruise makes $20 million per picture, then his movies make over $120 million. That’s not bad. Not bad at all. That’s particularly true if worldwide grosses are not accounted for, which is my assumption since Tom Cruise’s last two films both made over $200 million worldwide and he would’ve had to have been paid $36 million per picture for those figures to work out correctly for his last three films (which are all that are counted).

Anyway, Kal Penn and John Cho are not on that list nor is Neil Patrick Harris, but their latest, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas opened poorly with $13 million, despite the 3D screenings. It had a similarly bad B Cinemascore. Given the lack of Christmas-themed offerings this season (Arthur Christmas is the only other), I suspect it’ll stick around in the top 10 for a few week, all the same.

Paranormal Activity landed at number four in its third weekend, accumulating $95 million so far (it likely will not top the $107 million of the first film), while In Time continues to perform weakly, generating only $7.7 million in its second week.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.