In recent years, the advent of online streaming has changed the face of television, making it more appealing than it has been in the past. For that reason, film stars are more willing to work on the small screen and there are greater opportunities for television stars to break into feature film work. This leads many wondering how the pay compares.
Smart Television Stars Seize Their Golden Opportunities
Moving from television to the silver screen can be very lucrative. George Clooney first found fame as a doctor on ER, before pursuing a film career. Today, he’s worth $160 million. Similarly, Friends star Jennifer Aniston made a nice career out of feature film romantic comedies and today she’s worth $150 million.
In recent years, the face of television has changed and feature film actors have begun to recognize that doing series T.V. is no longer the step down that it may have once been. Promising bigger pay and greater exposure, television and streamed shows attract big-name Hollywood A-listers from Drew Barrymore to Ashton Kutcher.
Take Two and a Half Men, for instance. During his run on the series, Charlie Sheen nabbed $1.2 million per episode. Ashton Kutcher, who replaced Sheen, doesn’t make quite as much, but he still gets $700,000 per episode. For his run on House, Hugh Laurie also earned $700,000 per episode. At last report, Mariska Hargitay was taking home $350,000 for each episode of Law & Order: SVU.
The highest paid daytime star is Judge Judy‘s own Judy Sheindlin, who earns $47 million, followed by The Today Show’s Matt Lauer, who makes $22 million.
Film Salaries are Equally Impressive
Meanwhile, big-name Hollywood actors typically make $20-30 million to start. They may earn even more if they trade some of that for a percentage of the film’s gross profits. That is a great deal of money, but actors are willing to put in the work for it. While making a film, actors commit to working between 12 and 17 hours a day over a three month period. They do get a two-week break during that time, but, otherwise, they practically live on the film set. This involves a monotonous schedule of shooting the same scenes from multiple angles and rehearsing their positioning, so everything will look perfect on film.
Robert Downey, Jr. is the highest paid actor, thanks in large part to his role as Iron Man (a.k.a. Tony Stark) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Between 2012 and 2013, he earned an estimated $75 million. Channing Tatum came in a close second, reporting earnings over $60 million, followed by Hugh Jackman with $55 million.
It’s clear that both film and television offer lucrative opportunities, given the rising popularity of franchises and series television. The draw of big stars to the small screen has also helped television to evolve and provide better-scripted series. As actors become more versatile, they can benefit from the impressive salaries offered in both mediums.