The Top 10 Highest-Paid Actors of 2020, and Why Most of Them Should Thank Netflix

     August 12, 2020


Forbes has released its annual list of the 10 highest-paid actors of the year, and if you’re an A-list star who made a movie for Netflix, you probably made the cut.

Seriously, more than half the actors on this list can thank Netflix for their stunning success, seeing as how the streamer’s hefty paychecks typically account for back-end grosses that stars typically wait years to see, and that’s only when a movie performs at the box office. With Netflix, performance doesn’t even matter, since you’re getting paid upfront anyway.

Unsurprisingly leading the charge this year are Dwayne Johnson ($87.5 million) and Ryan Reynolds ($71.5 million), who were each paid tens of millions to star in Netflix’s upcoming action movie Red Notice, which was forced to pause production due to the pandemic, and will now bow on the streaming service next year. Johnson was reportedly paid $23.5 million, while Reynolds settled for $20 million — the same fee he was paid to star in Michael Bay‘s 6 Underground, and $10 million less than he’s expected to receive for starring in Apple’s forthcoming take on A Christmas Carol. Reynolds is already back in business with Netflix on an upcoming Skydance project, so expect to see him on this list next year, too.

Keep in mind that Johnson also made millions with his Under Armour line, Project Rock, proving his brand extends far beyond the screen. This is second year in a row in the #1 spot, though his earnings dipped from $89.4 million last year.


Image via Netflix

Meanwhile, Mark Wahlberg ($58 million) and Adam Sandler ($41 million) came in at #3 and #9, respectively, as Sandler recently inked another four-picture deal with Netflix following the success of Murder Mystery. Sandler earned $31 million this year under the four-picture deal he signed with Netflix back in 2014, and the new deal he signed in January is said to be even more lucrative.

Wahlberg’s action comedy Spenser Confidential became the streamer’s third most-watched original movie, though he made millions from his producing fees for docuseries such as McMillions and Wahl Street. These two actors should probably work together soon just to make the Netflix algorithm explode.

Elsewhere, Ben Affleck ($55 million) and Vin Diesel ($54 million) rounded out the top 5 even though the latter’s F9 was delayed a full year due to the pandemic. Diesel still pocketed millions as a producer on Netflix’s animated series Fast & Furious Spy Races. Meanwhile, Affleck starred in the Netflix movie The Last Thing He Wanted as well as The Way Back, which most people caught on VOD after the pandemic shortened the film’s run in theaters.

Lin-Manuel Miranda ($45.5 million) and Will Smith ($44.5 million) finished at #7 and #8 this year, with Miranda making his debut on the list after Disney bought the movie rights to Hamilton for $75 million and released a filmed version of the Broadway hit on Disney+. Miranda also has a feature adaptation of In the Heights on the horizon. As for Smith, he was well compensated for his Snapchat series as well as his upcoming turn in King Richard, which will see him play the father of Venus and Serena Williams.


Image via Disney+

The biggest surprise on this year’s list was Bollywood star Akshay Kumar ($48.5 million), who made the bulk of his fortune this year from endorsement deals, though he’s also working on his very first TV series — Amazon’s The End, which will pay him in the vicinity of $10 million. Keep an eye on Kumar, as you may be seeing a lot more of him soon.

Last but certainly not least is action mainstay Jackie Chan ($40 million), the ageless warrior who made five movies over the past year and earned millions more between various endorsement and licensing deals.

Check out the ten highest-paid actors of 2020 below — a surprisingly diverse list, mind you –and click here for our most recent story about Red Notice.

1. Dwayne Johnson – $87.5 million
2. Ryan Reynolds – $71.5 million
3. Mark Wahlberg – $58 million
4. Ben Affleck – $55 million
5. Vin Diesel – $54 million
6. Akshay Kumar – $48.5 million
7. Lin-Manuel Miranda – $45.5 million
8. Will Smith – $44.5 million
9. Adam Sandler – $41 million
10. Jackie Chan – $40 million

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