Who Gets Paid the Most in Hollywood?

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When you’re a well-known actor or actress in Hollywood, you’ve got a pretty good income.

Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock tops the list this year for top paid actresses, earning $51 million from June 2013 to June 2014. With starring roles in the Academy Award-winning movie Gravity, a movie that she carried with numerous solo scenes, and The Blindside, which led to her Oscar win, it’s not that hard to believe she’s a top-earning actress.

The actresses who also appear on Forbes’ list of top earning actresses include Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anelina Jolie, and Cameron Diaz. Each of these actresses have made a name for themselves – Jennifer Lawrence with The Hunger Games and Gwyneth Paltrow for the Iron Man movies – and have earned a collective total of $226 million for the past year.

However, that number pales in comparison to the amount that men in Hollywood make. Forbes’ list oftop earning actors, on the other hand, earned a total of $419 million: almost twice as much as their female counterparts. The inequality between men and women is present in most aspects of society, but that doesn’t make it okay.

Women and men have different standards in the film industry, and the inequality is still in effect. For example: the first and only time a woman won the Academy Award for Best Director was in 2008 when Kathryn Bigelow took home the prize for The Hurt Locker. Keep in mind the Academy Awards have been around since 1929.

Sandra Bullock earned $51 million after a successful year including Gravity and The Heat. Jennifer Lawrence saw a pay jump from less than $1 million for the first Hunger Game movie to a combined $34 million for her roles in Catching Fire and American Hustle, both of which received critical acclaim.

But while most men receive the lead roles in movies, women find themselves delegated to the love interest or secondary character in a male-driven plot. Gwyneth Paltrow, with her role as Pepper Potts in the Iron Man movies, earned $19 million this past year. Her co-star, Robert Downy Jr., was the top-earning actor of the year with $75 million – a large chunk of which comes from the Iron Man series.

Admittedly, since he plays the title character, it’s expected he will be the top earner for the film. However, when the pay scale is that drastically different between the male lead and the female lead, something isn’t right.

There may be hope for women in the industry. The rise in a female audience for the big blockbusters – namely, action-packed superhero movies – shows that more women are interested. Notice that the big-earning male leads star in movies that are easy to market? Look at all the action figures for the super hero movies – action figures made in the likeness of the actors portraying them.

The Hunger Games is a start for females leads getting action figures, with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. However, as of now it’s difficult for the prominent female leads to get action figures. While some people might be interested in them, the majority of people would not be interested in a Rose Miller action figure from We are the Millers – nor would the target audience of adults 25 and older be interested in buying them. That’s because the most likely demographic for buying action figures are young boys who would rather buy the likeness of a male hero than a female. Sorry, Jennifer Aniston.

Is this always the case? No, of course not. That’d be like saying because more females than males text while driving, females are more likely to get in car accidents. There are other issues that affect the overall case.

That said, it’s a good sign for women that Sandra Bullock earned $51 million this past year. Last year’s top female earner, Angelina Jolie, earned $33 million. Last year, Robert Downey Jr. was the top earner with $75 million. The numbers are rising for actresses, and the gap is starting to close. While it’s still a few years off, maybe we can finally have just one list of the top-earning performers in Hollywood.


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