Johnny Depp named Hollywood's most overpaid actor

Mortdecai star shifts up one place from last year’s No 2 after perennial list-topper Adam Sandler made himself ineligible by signing a deal with Netflix

Johnny Depp has been named the most overpaid movie star in Hollywood by Forbes magazine after posting a string of box office turkeys.

Depp, one of the highest-paid actors on the planet with estimated annual earnings of $30m (£20m), returned just $1.20 for every $1 he was paid according to the financial magazine’s metric. His poor position is due to the financial failure of movies such as Mortdecai, Transcendence and The Lone Ranger, all of which bombed at the box office on the back of derisive reviews. The Lone Ranger was the biggest turkey, with studio Disney estimated to have lost upwards of $150m on the western, but comedy Mortdecai pulled in just $47.4m at the global box office against a production budget of $60m alone, and sci-fi thriller Transcendence only just recouped its $100m production costs, with marketing and other expenses likely to have put the film well into the red.

Ironically, Depp’s career is considered to have turned a corner after something of a fallow period, with the actor expected to be among the best actor Oscar nominees for his turn as Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in mob thriller Black Mass. But Scott Cooper’s film, which has scored $94.6m against a budget of $53m off the back of strong reviews, fell outside the period measured by Forbes. The magazine considered only each actor’s most recent three films prior to June this year, while ignoring animated films, smaller budget movies, bit parts and cameos.

All 10 actors on the “most overpaid” list are male. Today’s rundown contrasts notably with Forbes’ “best-value” list, which was published on Monday and featured four female stars in the top five, further fuelling the current debate over Hollywood gender pay disparity.

Second on the “most overpaid” list was Denzel Washington, who returned just $6.50 for each $1 he was paid – still more than five times what Depp recouped. None of the last three movies in which Washington starred, last year’s The Equalizer, nor 2013’s 2 Guns or Flight, appear to have lost money, so the 60-year-old star’s position on the list would appear to be down to an inflated paycheque.

In third place was Will Ferrell, who topped Forbes “overpaid” list in 2009 and 2010. This time around the comic recouped $6.80 for every $1 he was paid. The top five was rounded out by Liam Neeson, with $7.80 for every $1, and Will Smith, with $8.60 for every $1 he was paid.

Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck and Tom Cruise all make the top 10, all as a consequence of their A-lister pay packets. A surprising inclusion is Channing Tatum in seventh place, mainly as a consequence of the box office failure of the sprawling Wachowski siblings space fantasy Jupiter Ascending at the box office. However, Forbes has admitted that Tatum failed to benefit from the success of this year’s Magic Mike XXL, which arrived in US multiplexes on 1 July, just after its cut off point.

Adam Sandler suffered the indignity of two first-place finishes on Forbes’ “most-overpaid” list in 2013 and 2014. But the comic cunningly signed a deal to screen his next four films via Netflix in October last year, making him ineligible for this year’s rundown due to the absence of his latest projects from cinemas.

Forbes’ most overpaid actors in Hollywood 2015

1. Johnny Depp: $1.20 per $1
2. Denzel Washington: $6.50 per $1
3. Will Ferrell: $6.80 per $1
4. Liam Neeson: $7.80 per $1
5. Will Smith: $8.60 per $1
6. Christian Bale: $9.20 per $1
7. Channing Tatum: $10.80 per $1
8. Brad Pitt: $12.00 per $1
9. Ben Affleck: $12.30 per $1
10. Tom Cruise: $13.60 per $1


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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