Super Payday for Downey

Iron Man could earn $50 million from "Avengers," far more than his co-stars.

Marvel's The Avengers is a global box-office sensation, but among studio executives, it's being hailed as much as a triumph of smart deal-making. After all, the famously frugal Marvel managed to corral six hot stars into one film without breaking the bank. But Robert Downey Jr., 47, seems to be the lone exception to Marvel's strict cost controls. According to knowledgeable sources, Iron Man/Tony Stark is set for a high-flying payday of about $50 million once box-office bonuses and back-end compensation are factored in. That number blows away his superhero co-stars, all of whom will make a small fraction of Downey's total, even as Avengers has a shot at topping the final Harry Potter film's $1.32 billion global haul. Why the difference? When Marvel's Iron Man grossed a surprising $585 million worldwide in 2008, Downey's reps at CAA and the Hansen Jacobson law firm renegotiated a deal to include what multiple sources say is a slice of Marvel's revenue from future movies in which he plays Iron Man (one source puts it in the 5 percent to 7 percent range; another source disputes the percentage. Marvel and Downey's reps declined to comment). As Marvel launched other hero pics that would lead up to Avengers, the studio struck hard bargains. Two sources say Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo all signed on for small upfront fees and will ultimately make about $2 million to $3 million on Avengers with bonuses. Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson, who signed deals to pop up in several Marvel movies, are said to make about twice that for Avengers. While Downey's pay might seem high, Johnny Depp is said to have made at least $250 million from the four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and Forbes reported that director Michael Bay took home $80 million from the first Transformers. At those rates, Downey almost seems cheap.

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