STALLONE KO’S ‘EM ALL--$12-MILLION WALLOP
Parade magazine reported Sunday, with some astonishment, that the $12 million he was paid for “Rocky IV” makes Sylvester Stallone the highest-paid actor in the world.
Stallone’s fee, said Parade, is twice that of Robert Redford’s and Dustin Hoffman’s. (Poor ducks, living hand-to-mouth on $6 million per picture.) It is also three times that of Jack Nicholson’s, four times that of Stallone’s nearest female rival Meryl Streep’s, eight times that of Jane Fonda’s, and about 200,000 times more than the Screen Actors Guild minimum.
The $12 million is just for openers, of course. Stallone is also in for a large helping of “Rocky’s” immense proceeds. And not to forget “Rambo.” With salary and profit-sharing, Stallone’s cut from that movie may come to $20 million.
H&R; Block won’t be doing his taxes.
Is it obscene for one person to be making that much money in a profession that he presumably enjoys and which earns him the enduring obsequiousness of nearly everyone he meets? Even when the money is handed over gratefully by a nation in the throes of a hero famine?
Of course it is. But at least it’s based on supply and demand. No one has lost a dime on a “Rocky” movie, and no one is complaining.
The same defense works for Redford, Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Eddie Murphy, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman and a handful of others drawing multimillion-dollar fees, plus gross profit deals. There is the matter of track records.
Generally, actors’ fees are based on either the success of their last movie or the anticipated success of the one they have in the can.
Thus Harrison Ford’s fee, in the wake of the surprising box-office success of last year’s “Witness,” jumps from $4 million to $5 million while the greening of Michael J. Fox--from TV series ensemble player to star of movie hits “Back to the Future” and “Teen Wolf"--has reportedly put his fee near the $2-million mark.
H&R; Block probably won’t be doing their taxes either.
The really weird news in the current Hollywood pay scale is the million-dollar fees being paid to young male stars whose box-office appeal seems to be gauged by executives crossing their fingers in casting meetings.
Sean Penn’s price is reportedly between $1 million and $1.5 million, despite the fact that since his bravura supporting role as a stoned surfer in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” he has starred in films whose performances have ranged from flop (“Racing With the Moon”) to modest (“Bad Boys,” “The Falcon and the Snowman”) success.
Mickey Rourke, Tom Cruise and Timothy Hutton are also said to be getting $1 million or more per picture, and inching toward that lofty plateau are Rob Lowe, Anthony Michael Hall and Emilio Estevez.
“It’s insane what’s going on with young actors now,” said one agent. “As soon as they have one hit, their salaries are tripled. When their next movie flops, you never see them giving any of the money back.”
There’s no such thing as equal pay for equal work in Hollywood. If the Parade figures are right, and other agents contacted say they are, Meryl Streep received $3 million for “Out of Africa,” half the amount paid co-star Redford. Redford, whose role is clearly subordinate to Streep’s, also received top billing.
The bias holds with young actresses coming up. With the exception of Madonna, whose popularity as a singer has helped boost her acting fee above $1 million, the women coming up are not getting anywhere near as much as the men.
Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy--the busiest of the new crop--are reportedly being paid between $400,000 and $700,000 per film.
With the best guesses of agents and other industry insiders to guide us, following is the membership list of Hollywood’s million-dollar club, with estimated per-picture salaries. Those making $1.5 million or more, we’re told, are also likely to be in for a percentage of film rentals.
Sylvester Stallone, $12 million.
Robert Redford, $6 million.
Dustin Hoffman, $6 million.
Warren Beatty, $6 million.
Richard Pryor, $5 million.
Eddie Murphy, $5 million.
Bill Murray, $5 million.
Harrison Ford, $5 million.
Jack Nicholson, $4 million.
Paul Newman, $4 million.
Burt Reynolds, $4 million.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, $3 million.
Robert De Niro, $3 million.
Al Pacino, $3 million.
Chevy Chase, $3 million.
Meryl Streep, $3 million.
Goldie Hawn, $3 million.
Diane Keaton, $2.5 million.
Sally Field, $2.5 million.
Jessica Lange, $2 million.
Jane Fonda, $2 million.
Kathleen Turner, $2 million.
Richard Gere, $1.5 million.
Sean Penn, $1.25 million.
Mickey Rourke, $1.25 million.
Tom Cruise, $1 million.
Madonna, $1 million.
SUNDANCE IN SNOW: Sidney Lumet’s “Power” and Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters” are hardly representative of the work going on among independent film makers these days. But like sirens luring sailors to shore, they are two of the major reasons for the crowds that will gather this weekend for the start of the 10-day United States Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
The once low-key festival, held on the snow-blanketed Western slopes of the Rockies, is entering its eighth year as a showcase for independent films, but in its second year under the administration of Robert Redford’s nearby Sundance Institute, it has suddenly blossomed into a first-class festival of premieres.
Besides Lumet’s “Power,” which co-stars Gene Hackman, Julie Christie and Richard Gere, and Allen’s “Hannah,” co-starring Allen, Mia Farrow, Michael Caine and Barbara Hershey, the festival will boast the world premiere of Orion Pictures’ “F/X,” with Bryan Brown, and Columbia’s “Desert Bloom” with Jon Voight and JoBeth Williams.
Festival organizers would like to think that the major studios’ support is a sign of their interest in independent film makers and an acknowledgement of the festival’s coming of age.
More likely, it is a response to the growing importance of Sundance as a source of marketable films (the institute was involved in the production of both “Desert Bloom” and “The Trip to Bountiful,” also being shown) and their desire to score points with the very marketable Redford.
Essentially, the festival format is the same--evening premieres, preceded by daytime competition screenings of independent films and documentaries and daily seminars. Special events include a program of independent Australian films and a series of midnight screenings of films by the late Orson Welles.
For ticket and lodging information, call (800) 328-FILM. Western Airlines, one of the festival sponsors, is offering discounted air fare from Los Angeles (800-426-5249).
CRITIC’S CHOICE: Kenneth Turan, the film critic for California magazine since 1979, is leaving that job to write film criticism and essays for the New York-based Gentleman’s Quarterly, beginning with the April issue.
Turan, who is currently collaborating with Patty Duke on the actress’ autobiography, will remain in Los Angeles and will continue to review movies for CBS RadioRadio, a college network. He will also stay on the California magazine masthead as book editor.
His successor on the film beat for California has not been named.