Hollywood's Most Overpaid Celebs

It's no secret that Hollywood's biggest stars make a comfortable living. Some people think their hefty paychecks are well deserved, while others question why actors and musicians often earn more than medical professionals who save lives. With the outrageous amount of money some celebrities make, we're not surprised that their earnings are such a popular topic of debate.

In 2020, Forbes released a list of "The World's Highest Paid Celebrities" and we really got an idea of just how much money there is to be made in Hollywood. Kylie Jenner topped the list, with estimated earnings of $590 million in 2020. Kanye West came in second, and he reportedly brought in $170 million that year alone. These stars are clearly paid well, but are they overpaid? Some social media users asked that question after it was alleged that actor Zendaya re-negotiated her Euphoria salary to make $1 million for each episode of Season 3 of the show. "How is anyone worth over 1m per episode realistically?," one user penned in a tweet. "Not even in the top 5 best actors on the show," another wrote in part.

There are quite a few stars who make much more than you might expect. Here are a few of Hollywood's most overpaid celebs.

Mark Wahlberg was paid well for movies that underperformed

Former rapper Mark Wahlberg's transition into acting may have been one of the most financially smart business moves of his career. Some might say that Wahlberg's star power is dwindling, but it turns out that his finances appear to be doing just fine. The actor topped Forbes' "Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actors" list in 2017. The outlet reported that Wahlberg's box office return was only $4.40 for every $1 paid. To put things into perspective, Mila Kunis' return was reportedly $87.30 for every $1 paid in 2015.

Despite Wahlberg's low box office earnings in 2017, he was the highest-paid actor that year. The actor's 2016 film, "Patriots Day," had a $45,000,000 budget but grossed only $52,185,751 worldwide. Wahlberg also starred in the movie "Deepwater Horizon" in 2016. This project had a budget of $110,000,000 but grossed only $121,790,373 worldwide. Wahlberg being the highest-paid actor of 2017 doesn't really make sense when you consider these numbers.

The movie star was also paid a hefty amount to star in Netflix's "Spenser Confidential" even though it didn't receive the best reviews. Critics didn't like the film, and according to Rotten Tomatoes, neither did viewers. It received a 51% audience score. Still, Wahlberg was paid $30 million to star in the movie.

Kylie Jenner's Instagram promos aren't cheap

There seems to be a bit of mystery around how much money Kylie Jenner really makes, but whatever the amount, money isn't scarce for her. Forbes named Jenner the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2019. The outlet later claimed the beauty mogul's team forged documents that helped her earn that title. Still, Jenner's net worth sits at an impressive $750 million at the time of this writing.

Much of Jenner's wealth comes from her beauty empire, Kylie Cosmetics. The businesswoman sold 51% of Kylie Cosmetics to beauty company Coty for $600 million in 2019. It turns out that Coty may have overpaid Jenner for their stake in the company. In 2021, The Fashion Law reported Coty was being sued by a shareholder for allegedly not vetting Jenner and Kylie Cosmetics before dishing out $600 million based on what may have been a fabrication of the company's worth. "Despite being no stranger to beauty brand acquisitions, Coty did not have adequate processes and procedures in place to assess and properly value the P&G Specialty Beauty Business and Kylie Cosmetics acquisitions, [and] as a result, Coty overpaid for [them]," shareholder Crystal Garrett-Evans alleged.

If there's truth to this claim, Jenner rightfully earned her spot on this list. Kylie Cosmetics' alleged shady behavior aside, some might say that Jenner is overpaid for her social media sponsorships and brand deals. She reportedly charges companies $1 million per Instagram post.

Johnny Depp was overpaid for three consecutive years

Johnny Depp made Forbes' list of "Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actors" for three consecutive years. The movie star first made the list in 2014. Forbes reported that the star's movies brought in only $4.10 for every $1 earned that year. The outlet cited Depp's movies "The Lone Ranger" and "Dark Shadows" as the reason for his low box office return (yet, hefty paychecks) that year. "The Lone Ranger" had a budget of $215,000,000 but only brought in $260,502,115 worldwide. "Dark Shadows" was similarly unsuccessful. The film had a budget of $150,000,000 and grossed $245,527,149 worldwide. Depp was reportedly paid $20 million for "Dark Shadows" despite its low earnings.

When Johnny Depp made Forbes' list again in 2015 it was due to his films "Mortdecai" and "Transcendence" returning only $1.20 for every $1 he pocketed. This time, Depp was named the most overpaid actor of the year. The "Sweeney Todd" actor topped the list again in 2016. Forbes explained that Depp made the list because his movie, "Alice Through the Looking Glass," brought in $300 million with a $170 million budget. It's estimated that the actor pockets $20 million per film.

Jim Carrey was paid $20 million for The Cable Guy

Like many of the stars on this list, Jim Carrey is a Hollywood veteran. As a result, you probably expect him to demand a few million per film. It seems that Carrey is paid a generous amount regardless of how successful the project is in the end, and maybe this is because he's undoubtedly an A-lister.

Carrey made history when he was paid $20 to star in the 1996 movie "The Cable Guy." This was the most money production company Columbia Pictures ever paid an actor at the time. Carrey's record-breaking pay might not be justified considering "The Cable Guy" grossed only $60,240,295 on a budget of $47,000,000. The movie clearly wasn't exactly a blockbuster, but it did gain popularity years later after Carrey developed a massive fanbase. "The Cable Guy" is now a favorite among many of the actor's fans.

Carrey made Forbes' "Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actors" list back in 2009. The outlet explained that this was due in part to the film "The Number 23" bringing in only $77 million worldwide despite the actor's hefty price tag. Carrey reportedly brought in a mere $8.62 for every $1 he was paid in 2009.

Movie studios didn't mind overpaying Christian Bale

Christian Bale was named the second most overpaid actor in Hollywood by Forbes in 2017. This was due in part to the poor performance of his 2016 film, "The Promise." The movie grossed only $12,448,676 on a $90,000,000 budget. The film details the Armenian genocide and was directed by the late Kirk Kerkorian. While "The Promise" may not have been very profitable, it served its intended purpose.

Producers of the film revealed they aimed to educate the public on the Armenian genocide that took place during the Ottoman Empire. Eric Esrailian, who worked on the film and is also a UCLA professor, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about why money wasn't a driving factor in making "The Promise."

"The movie was made as a living museum," Esrailian explained. "We made the film knowing it would stand the test of time. And we will give millions away in charity. We wanted to shed a light on the best, and on the state of the world today." He also shared, "I feel like it is petty to talk about money when we are talking about genocide." While Bale may have been overpaid to star in this film, it looks like it was for a good cause. The actor also made a decent earning for taking on the role of Batman in "Batman Begins," "The Dark Knight," and "The Dark Knight Rises." However, his pay might be justified considering the success of those films.

Eddie Murphy is reportedly paid well for poor performing movies

Actor and comedian Eddie Murphy has a net worth of approximately $200 million. He has earned much of his wealth through his iconic roles in successful movies like "The Nutty Professor," "Shrek," and "Doctor Dolittle." Murphy was charging big bucks to appear in these films (he was reportedly paid $20 million for "Nutty Professor II" alone) and the success of these projects justified his price tag. However, Murphy's later films weren't nearly as successful. He was paid a hefty amount for a few box office flops.

The actor topped Forbes' "Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actors" list for the first time in 2012. The outlet explained this was due to the poor performance of this star's movies, "Imagine That," "A Thousand Words," "Meet Dave," and "Tower Heist." Murphy's movies reportedly returned only $2.30 for every $1 he was paid. The family comedy "Imagine That" grossed only $22,985,194 on a $55,000,000 budget. "Meet Dave" was similarly unsuccessful and grossed $51,339,567 worldwide on a $60,000,000 budget. "A Thousand Words" grossed a mere $22,044,277 worldwide on a $40,000,000 budget.

Murphy continued to be in demand despite these poor-performing movies and his $20 million per film price tag. Chief executive of DreamWorks Animation Jeffrey Katzenberg spoke to The New York Times about why the actor was so sought after. "He is explosive, given the right project, the right circumstances, the right concept, the right director," Katzenberg said.

Adam Sandler was paid well for unsuccessful movies

Adam Sandler reportedly expected to be paid $15 million per film back in 2013. This price tag wasn't always justified when you consider the performance of some of his films. This is how Sandler found himself at the top of Forbes' most overpaid actors list in 2013. According to the outlet, the actor earned this spot due to the low box office numbers earned by the movies "Jack & Jill" and "That's My Boy." "Jack & Jill" brought in $150 million on a budget of $80 million. This left Sony with roughly $70 million in profit. When you consider the fact that they may have had to pay Sandler upwards of $15 million and cover marketing costs, it seems that the star was overpaid. "That's My Boy" reportedly grossed only $57 million but cost $70 million to make.

You'd think this would cause production studios to refrain from working with Sandler, but it appears they don't have any problem cutting massive checks for the star. That's probably how he landed at the top of Forbes' list again in 2014. The outlet explained this was also due to the mediocre performance of Sandler and Drew Barrymore's romantic comedy, "Blended." The movie grossed $127,994,610 on a budget of $40,000,000.

Sandler reportedly makes $20 million per movie these days. He also signed a $250 million production deal with Netflix in 2014, but critics aren't fond of his films. Sandler reacted to the hate during an interview for AARP in 2022. When asked if critics' harsh words sting, he replied: "Sometimes. Mostly because I invite all these amazing people I care about to make movies with me, and I wish they didn't have to read s**t about whatever we've made."

Channing Tatum is paid well but his movies aren't always blockbusters

Channing Tatum has a net worth of $80 million. The movies that brought the star the most money include "Jupiter Ascending," "Magic Mike XXL," and "23 Jump Street." Tatum was reportedly paid $25 million for "23 Jump Street," making it the movie that earned him the most. The actor took the third spot on Forbes' "Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actors" list in 2017. The outlet reported Tatum made only $7.60 for every $1 he was paid. Forbes also pointed out that although Tatum likely wasn't paid an outrageous amount for appearing in the small-budget film "Logan Lucky," the actor's pay could be considered excessive given how little money the movie made. "Logan Lucky" had a budget of $29 million but only grossed $48,453,605 worldwide. Tatum's 2016 movie, "Hail, Caesar!," also didn't perform well. It grossed $63,647,656 on a $22,000,000 budget. Tatum made Forbes' list in 2016 and 2015 due to low-earning movies like "Jupiter Ascending." The sci-fi flick grossed $183,887,723 worldwide, which would be a decent earning if it didn't have a $176,000,000 budget.

Some of Tatum's most popular (and most profitable) films include the "Magic Mike" movie franchise. It seems the actor doesn't think he was overpaid for these films, though. When asked if he made a lot of money working on the movies, Tatum told GQ, "I wouldn't say a lot. That's why we're making another one."

Kim Kardashian charges an outrageous amount for a single Instagram post

The Kardashian family is often criticized for their excessive wealth. Some argue they don't do enough to justify how much money they make. Kim Kardashian alone has a net worth of $1.4 billion. Fans made their voices heard in a survey conducted by Fitness Magazine and Yahoo! Finance in 2012 (via New York Post). The survey asked readers who they thought was the most overpaid celebrity. Former "Jersey Shore" star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi took the top spot while Kim Kardashian came in second. Of those surveyed, 45 percent believed the former "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" star is overpaid.

As most fans know, Kardashian has numerous streams of income. She is the founder of multiple companies including her shapewear brand Skims and her makeup line KKW Beauty. Kardashian increased her wealth in 2020 when she sold 20% of KKW Beauty for an impressive $200 million. Some might say the star's business smarts rightfully earned her millions through her companies. The cash Kardashian makes from sponsored Instagram posts might be a bit more controversial, though, because she charges a lot for what some believe to be very little work. The businesswoman reportedly charges $1,689,000 for a single Instagram post.

Denzel Washington was paid $40 million for a single movie

Denzel Washington might be one of the world's biggest movie stars, but even he has still had a few films perform poorly. That's how he landed on Forbes' "Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actors" list in 2017. The actor was placed in the fourth spot due to the historical drama, "Fences." The movie grossed $64,414,761 worldwide on a $24,000,000 budget. Forbes argued that the movie's low international gross of $6,731,857 contributed to Washington landing on their list. They estimated the actor only brought in $10.40 for every dollar he was paid.

Washington also made Forbes' list in 2015. They reported that he returned $6.50 for every dollar he was paid during that period. Like many of Hollywood's top actors these days, the movie star reportedly demands $20 per movie. This might be the norm among the most successful stars now but this wasn't always the case. Washington was one of the first actors bold enough to request $20 million per movie back in the '00s. The "Remember The Titans" actor sometimes earns even more than his $20 minimum requirement. He was reportedly paid $40 million to star in the 2021 movie "The Little Things." These massive earnings contribute to Washington's impressive $280 Million net worth.

Brad Pitt's pay doesn't match the success of his recent movies

Brad Pitt was among the actors who made Forbes' "Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actors" list in 2017. He took the fifth spot due to the poor performance of his 2016 movie "Allied." The movie grossed $119,520,023 on a budget of $85,000,000. Forbes estimated that Pitt brought in $11.50 for every dollar he was paid.

It appears that Brad Pitt might not be the box office success he once was, because this pattern continued years later. The star appeared in the 2022 film "Babylon" alongside a star-studded cast that included Tobey Maguire, Margot Robbie, and a number of other celebs. "Babylon" underperformed despite its star power. The movie reportedly had a budget of $80 million and only grossed $63,351,455 worldwide.

Pitt is reportedly paid around $20 million per movie, so you'd think any film he appears in would at least break even. It seems that studios are still willing to meet the actor's expensive requirements regardless of the fact that he doesn't always deliver box office success. That's probably part of the reason why Pitt has a net worth of $400 million.

Marlon Brando was paid millions for minutes of screen time

Marlon Brando's most notable performances are some of the most legendary in Hollywood history. It might be safe to say that the late actor wasn't overpaid for his role in "The Godfather," for example. Brando reportedly earned $2 million for the movie, and it grossed $243,862,778 on a budget of only $6,000,000.

Unfortunately, not all of Brando's performances were as impressive as his early career roles and his iconic character in "The Godfather." The star appeared in "Superman: The Movie" for mere minutes and was paid more than Christopher Reeve even though he took on the lead role in the film. Brando was reportedly paid $3.7 million and 11.75% of the movie's profits. Meanwhile, Reeve was only paid $250,000 to portray Superman.

Brando's performance in "The Island of Dr. Moreau" is often considered one of the worst of his career. Still, he was reportedly paid $5 million to appear in the movie. His co-star, Ron Perlman, apparently didn't mind though. He was just grateful to get the chance to work with a Hollywood legend. "I heard Marlon Brando was going to be doing this movie and it didn't really matter what I was going to be doing, it didn't matter how much I was going to be making, nothing mattered," Perlman said in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment.