Matt Damon is a good investment

gla-000098.jpg just released an analysis of who gives movies studios the most bang for their buck. I was kind of surprised, but it turns out the best investment is Matt Damon. In a way it makes sense: those “It” actors and actresses command such huge paychecks, that investment-wise, it’s hard to get the same return. For every dollar that Matt Damon is paid for a film, the movie returned $29. Pretty good deal.

“According to Forbes’ first-ever list of Ultimate Star Payback, the movie stars who deliver the best bang for the buck aren’t the industry’s top earners. Matt Damon, the soft-spoken leading man in box office winner The Bourne Ultimatum, turns out to be Hollywood’s best investment. For every dollar Damon got paid for his last three roles, his films returned $29 of gross income. And, surprisingly, former ‘Friends’ star Jennifer Aniston is Hollywood’s most profitable actress, despite duds like ‘Rumor Has It.’ For ever dollar the former Mrs. Pitt was paid for her last three major roles, her films on average returned $17 of gross income.”


Second place for actors went to Brad Pitt, and third place was a tie between Johnny Depp and Vince Vaughn. Vince Vaughn is the biggest surprise to me. It must be because he makes about $34 a film, so if the film makes $43,000 you’ve got a pretty good deal. Vaughn’s rate is actually about a million a film, a relative bargain in Hollywood terms. Forbes points out that his last three movies “’The Break-Up,’ ‘Wedding Crashers,’ ‘Dodgeball’–have been box office bonanzas relative to their low production costs. (At $52 million, The Break-Up’s budget was roughly 20% of “Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest.).” The big budget actors like Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and Will Smith only averaged about $12 in gross income per salary dollar.

The actor who gave the worst return, dollar for dollar? Russell Crowe. Forbes points out that his “standing in Hollywood has shrunk since he scored back-to-back consecutive Oscar nods for ‘The Insider’ (1999), ‘Gladiator’ (2000) and ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (2001). Crowe’s last three films earned on average just $5 in gross income for every dollar spent on the star. His most recent, last year’s ‘A Good Year,’ was made for $35 million, almost one-third of which went to Crowe’s salary. The film earned only $40 million in worldwide box office, making it a huge disappointment for Fox, which produced and distributed it.” Logically, it seems like the opposite should be true. Who would ever have guessed that getting three Oscar nominations in three years could be bad for your career?

You know who is not a good investment? Lindsay Lohan. For some reason Forbes doesn’t even bother mentioning this. Probably because it’s so obvious it doesn’t need stating. Ironically, I bet this report will raise Matt Damon’s salary, thus making him less of a great deal. Oh well. He’s still a good actor, and fun to look at.

Picture note by JayBird: Here’s Matt Damon yesterday at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival. Header image of Matt and his wife Luciana Bozan Barroso from the “The Bourne Ultimatum” Los Angeles Premiere. Images thanks to PR Photos.


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