Joaquin Phoenix is earning a big pay raise to play the Joker again. After winning an Oscar for the 2019 Joker film, Phoenix will be paid over four times as much as he earned the last time he put clown makeup on. It's not quite as much as Tom Cruise is expected to rake in from Top Gun: Maverick, but it still proves Phoenix, 47, is firmly among the A-listers in Hollywood.
Phoenix is set to earn $20 million from Warner Bros., Variety reported Wednesday in a report on movie star salaries. That's much more than the $4.5 million he earned to make Joker in 2019. Since that film went on to gross over $1 billion, which is astonishing for a mid-budgeted R-rated comic book movie, it seems like a wise gamble for Warner Bros.
The Hangover filmmaker Todd Phillips planned Joker as a stand-alone film, but its incredible success instantly lead to talks of a sequel. In June, Phillips shared a photo of Phoenix reading a script titled Joker: Folie à Deux. A few days later, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Lady Gaga was in talks to play Harley Quinn and that Joker 2 will be a musical. Gaga's Harley Quinn would be different from Margot Robbie's take on the character, as seen in Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad.
While Phoenix's paycheck sounds big, it is nothing compared to what Cruise is expected to make from Top Gun: Maverick. Thanks to a deal that will net him cuts from ticket sales and home video revenue, Cruise is expected to earn $100 million or more from the movie, sources told Variety. He agreed to be paid between $12 million and $14 million for the two Mission: Impossible movies in development, but he will also take in a "significant percentage" of the films' grosses.
Will Smith came far behind Cruise in second place on Variety's chart of movie star salaries. Smith will reportedly earn $35 million from Apple for his upcoming escaped-slave movie Emancipation. Leonardo DiCaprio will pocket $30 million for Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon, which will also be released on Apple TV+. Brad Pitt is set to earn $30 million for making an untitled Formula One movie with Maverick director Joseph Kosinski. Chris Hemsworth will earn $20 million for a sequel to Netflix's Extraction.
Variety's report also highlights the gender pay gap in Hollywood. Robbie is the highest-ranking woman on the chart, earning $12.5 million for making Greta Gerwig's Barbie. She is earning the same as Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken in the movie. Millie Bobby Brown will earn $10 million from Netflix for Enola Holmes 2. Emily Blunt is making $4 million to star in Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, the same as Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon. Jamie Lee Curtis is earning $3.5 million for Holloween Ends, while Anya Taylor-Joy will learn $1.8 million for the Mad Max Fury Road prequel Furiosa.