Hollywood's Salary Report 2017: Movie Stars to Makeup Artists to Boom Operators

6:50 AM 9/28/2017

by THR staff

Are you paid what you're worth? From the executive suite to the craft services table, THR surveys the salary ranges of everyone from actors to studio chiefs to key grips with the annual preview of entertainment industry paychecks and perk packages.

Hollywood Money Bill Illo - THR - H 2017
Illustration by: David Johnson

There's tons of money to be made in Hollywood — just not necessarily by boom operators or key grips.

Once again, THR surveys the salaries of the entertainment industry, from movie stars ($20 million on one recent Jennifer Lawrence paystub) to agents (including a couple who reportedly got a $40 million payday) to directors (Patty Jenkins only got a million for Wonder Woman, but will be getting eight times as much for the sequel) to game show hosts (survey says, Pat Sajak gets $15 million!), along with makeup artists and camera operators and other below-the-line talent, who have a lot fewer zeros on their paychecks.

So, here's how much your friends and neighbors in L.A. are making?

This story first appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

  • Movie Star

    TOP DOLLAR Even in these belt-tightening times, it's still possible for film stars to get paid like it's 1999. A-listers hover around $20 million a picture — like Jennifer Lawrence for Red Sparrow, Will Smith for Netflix's Bright and Dwayne Johnson for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle — and can take home tens of millions more in backend. The $15 million club is slightly less exclusive but by no means crowded: Harrison Ford reportedly made that much for The Force Awakens as did Robert Downey Jr. for Spider-Man: Homecoming.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR Gone are the upfront paydays for even reliable draws. Emma Watson got just $3 million up front for Beauty and the Beast (but ended up pocketing nearly $20 million thanks to her backend). Jessica Chastain got $700,000 for her role in Woman Walks Ahead, but that film's $12 million budget wouldn't cover the hair-spray bills on Beast.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR An actor with only a few credits appearing in his or her first big franchise movie — like Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman or Henry Cavill in Man of Steel — can expect to earn between $150,000 and $300,000. They'll make considerably more if there's a sequel. And on the really low end, the kids in It were paid SAG-AFTRA scale, now between $65,000 and $75,000.

  • Producer

    TOP DOLLAR The herd of first-dollar-gross producers has thinned, but there are still a few. Beauty and the Beast's David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman got an upfront fee of $2 million, plus a cut off the top (sources say they've made as much as $20 million). Get Out's Jason Blum made a killing as well, reportedly banking as much as $10 million in first-dollar backend, while X-Men's Simon Kinberg, who gets close to $2 million up front, also has made millions in backend deals.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR The average studio producer typically makes about $750,000 per film.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR First-time producers on a studio project earn about $250,000.

  • Agent

    TOP DOLLAR WME-IMG bumped its valuation up to $6.3 billion in August, following a $1.1 billion infusion of outside funds. Just how that trickles down to co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell is a closely guarded secret, but these two — along with CAA's Richard Lovett, Kevin Huvane and Bryan Lourd, who each pocketed $40 million when TPG took a majority stake in the agency in 2014 — may be the only agents in Hollywood making eight figures annually (much of their compensation is tied up in equity).

    MIDDLE DOLLAR Veteran agents with high-earning clients can double their base salary with bonuses in a good year, taking home a total of mid- to high-seven figures. An average range is $300,000 to $500,000 a year.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR Newbie agents fresh from the mailroom barely clear $50,000 at smaller boutiques, while the bigger agencies offer starting deals at around $60,000, with a significant renegotiation after the third year. Assistants make between $30,000 and $40,000 typically.

  • Director

    TOP DOLLAR Sources say Ridley Scott received $10 million to $12 million up front for Alien: Covenant but took a smaller paycheck to shoot the more personal drama All the Money in the World (between $1 million and $3 million).

    MIDDLE DOLLAR Patty Jenkins got only $1 million to direct Wonder Woman, but her salary has jumped for the sequel — she'll be getting $8 million to $9 million, making her the highest-paid female director ever.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR Newish (or indie) directors jumping into the studio pool for the first time can expect to make about $400,000 to $500,000, although Jordan Vogt-Roberts is said to have made closer to $750,000 for Kong: Skull Island (Legendary tends to overspend). Even Simon Kinberg, among the highest-paid producers and screenwriters in town, took a pay cut (he'll make only $500,000) for his directorial debut, X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

  • Boom Operator

    TOP DOLLAR Working on big-budget projects, the more experienced guys who hold the mics can make up to $120,625 a year (based on a 40-week year), per guild rules.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR Typical studio pay averages about $72,000 a year.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR Working on microbudget films (less than $6 million) pays out about $37,000 a year.

  • TV Host

    TOP DOLLAR If Pat Sajak ever spun the Wheel of Fortune, it would land on $15 million a season. Ryan Seacrest also is getting a fabulous take-home prize: $12 million for his return as host of American Idol, now on ABC.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR Alec Baldwin is earning $3 million for ABC's Match Game, and sources say Jamie Foxx is getting $4 million for Fox's Beat Shazam.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR Travel Channel's non-famous hosts make about $40,000 per episode.

  • Key Grip

    TOP DOLLAR Movie studios will pay $131,068 per year for experienced talent, per guild rules.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR TV shows will pay at least $35.87 an hour, or about $59,000 a year (for a 40-week year).

    BOTTOM DOLLAR Low-budget movies pay $25.50 an hour, or about $41,000 a year.

  • Studio Chief

    TOP DOLLAR The average base salary at the chairman level — think Disney's Alan Horn or Fox's Stacey Snider — is $5 million. Total annual compensation, however, can amount to $15 million to $20 million when factoring in stock grants and bonuses. It's not clear whether former 20th Century Fox film chairman Jim Gianopulos negotiated a raise when he was named chairman-CEO of Paramount Pictures this year, but he almost assuredly didn't take a pay cut. The major perks continue to be access to a private jet and a posh home theater.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR The base pay commanded by a president of worldwide marketing and distribution can be $1.5 million or more. One insider says Sony president of worldwide marketing and distribution Josh Greenstein, who re-upped with the studio Sept. 21, negotiated a significant hike, pushing his salary past $2 million. On the production side, a president of a motion picture group or a vice chairman — think Warners' Toby Emmerich or Fox's Emma Watts — can take home $2 million a year in base pay before bonuses.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR Those running a studio specialty division, such as Focus Features, Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics, have to squeak by on $1 million in base pay.

  • TV Star

    TOP DOLLAR The best-paid broadcast actors, like The Big Bang Theory stars Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki, make about $900,000 an episode, or about $20 million a year (plus backend). On cable, the Game of Thrones cast each make about $500,000 an episode, while Netflix's highest-paid star, Kevin Spacey, also earns $500,000 an episode for House of Cards.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR Actors lower on the credits — like Indira Varma, who was a regular on Game of Thrones during seasons five to seven — make just over $55,000 an episode. Bigger stars in younger series — like Mandy Moore in This Is Us — are said to earn in the $75,000 to $85,000 range.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR A supporting lead with no prior regular series roles makes about $30,000 an episode, which is what the kids from Stranger Things earned their first season.

  • TV Writer

    TOP DOLLAR Seasoned writers can fetch upward of $15,000 an episode, unless, of course, they're also the showrunner, in which case they make tons more (see Showrunner).

    MIDDLE DOLLAR The average working scribe on a network show makes between $5,000 and $10,000 an episode, depending on experience.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR A first-time staff writer gig pays about $4,000 a week, which is the latest WGA scale. "They will pay you as little as they possibly can to get you, which means guild minimums," says one scribe.

  • Makeup Artist

    TOP DOLLAR $124,000 for a big-budget studio film — per guild rules — although star artists can negotiate more.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR More typically, artists make $47.60 an hour, or about $75,000 a year.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR Small-budget films pay only $23.04 an hour, or about $37,000 a year.

  • Digital Talent

    TOP DOLLAR Top stars' income depends largely on how active they are. Acting roles (rates range from $5,000 per episode for a web series to $75,000 for a walk-on appearance in a movie) and brand deals can be big income drivers. But industry sources say stars who own merch businesses, like Logan Paul and Jeffree Star, can make as much as $15 million.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR The upper-tier YouTube star's annual income can hover somewhere closer to $5 million a year, with sponsorships (Bethany Mota was offered $325,000 for promoting a skin care company) making up the bulk of their earnings.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR Up-and-comers who have moved beyond home videos but haven't quite hit it big can earn around $500,000 a year from a combination of advertising revenue and appearance fees (usually $5,000 a pop).

  • Showrunner

    TOP DOLLAR With more than 400 scripted shows on TV today, salaries for showrunners are all over the map, but the sky's the limit for a few select star producers. Sources say Shonda Rhimes, for instance, is raking in $15 million to $20 million a year at ABC.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR Less prominent showrunners earn between $100,000 and $300,000 an episode — like Game of Thrones' David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — with cable and streamers paying less than broadcast. Still, says a lawyer with a handful of showrunner clients, "If you're running a 10-episode order of some giant hit on HBO, you could be making a million bucks or more [per season]."

    BOTTOM DOLLAR First-time showrunners make about $30,000 to $40,000 an episode.

  • Screenwriter

    TOP DOLLAR The days when a screenwriter could get $4 million from a pitch written on a cocktail napkin are long gone. But Max Landis got $3 million for the upcoming Bright then sold a spec script called Deeper to MGM for $2 million. Marquee writers such as Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian still earn decent wages — between $3 million and $5 million — but big paydays for even the most reliable scribes are fewer and farther between.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR The average working-stiff scribe earns in the low six figures for studio work, unless it's a high-profile project. The writers behind Sony's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers; Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg) were each paid between $850,000 and $1 million.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR The latest WGA deal sets a minimum of $72,600 for an original script and $63,500 for an adaptation. But studio writers, even new ones, generally make more.

  • Camera Operator

    TOP DOLLAR Working on big-budget films can earn you up to $154,000 a year, per guild rules.

    MIDDLE DOLLAR A movie of the week pays $1,833 per week.

    BOTTOM DOLLAR $25.50 an hour.