Henry Cavill is one of the biggest stars to work in both the film industry and the TV industry, and his salary from The Witcher helps explain why. The A-lister is paid about $400,000 per episode to appear on the Netflix original series, according to a report by Variety. That's not quite as much as he makes for playing DC's Superman, but it is closer than some fans had dared think.
Cavill makes nearly half a million dollars per episode as The Witcher himself, Geralt of Rivia. That means that in Season 1, with eight episodes total, he made about $3.2 million and will presumably pull in the same amount for Season 2 later this month. By comparison, Variety speculates that Cavill likely made about $20 million each for his blockbuster movies like Justice League and Mission: Impossible, as that's the average starting salary for a star of his stature. Some industry insiders see this closing gap as a sign that TV is being valued as highly as movies these days, while others see it as a sign of a "streaming bubble" that is doomed to pop eventually.
It's worth noting that Cavill's starting salary would only be a fraction of his earnings on blockbuster movies, whatever that salary actually is. That initial payout would be followed by back-end earnings — assuming the movie surpasses its production budget at the box office. The work required for every production can vary greatly, but it is surprising for some to see such disparate numbers between a 2-hour movie and an 8-hour series.
Still, industry insiders familiar with the old TV landscape are shocked by the size of these paychecks in today's "streaming boom." Some have speculated that this is a kind of economic bubble which must burst eventually, but so far it shows no signs of slowing down. Streamers are still battling it out for dominance in a growing market where they are able to keep much of their key analytics data to themselves.
In the case of Cavill, we can at least be confident that he works hard for his money. His portrayal of Geralt of Rivia is stunt-heavy, and the actor has detailed his intense exercise and training regimen in order to be able to wield his swords — the silver and the iron one, depending on his foe. He even injured himself filming the Netflix original series earlier this year, though he recovered quickly enough to avoid a major production delay.
Cavill also wears some intense costume pieces in The Witcher, including colored contact lenses that apparently cause him a great deal of pain after a while. Since he is as committed to authenticity as fans are, he bears the burden.
The Witcher Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix, along with the new animated spinoff movie The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf. The Witcher Season 2 premieres Dec. 17 on Netflix.