What Mark Wahlberg's Hefty 'Transformers' Payday Means for His Future (Analysis)

Mark Wahlberg 2 Guns Premiere - P 2013
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Mark Wahlberg 2 Guns Premiere - P 2013

The star will earn between $16-18 million for the next installment of the hit series, but will he be able to command such a high salary for future projects?

Mark Wahlberg is entering an elite Hollywood club with his paycheck for the next Transformers film – which will see him earn in the $16 million to $18 million range.

With next summer's Transformers: Age of Extinction, Wahlberg will be joining the likes of Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Adam Sandler in the group of tried-and-true box office champs who command salaries in the double digit millions.

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While younger stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Jennifer Lawrence, and Chris Hemsworth now routinely topline projects for A-list directors, they are typically unable to bring in the mega-salaries of older stars such as Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp. The younger stars are usually signing deals in the low-seven figures, and often with contracts tying them to multiple pictures. Lawrence, however, was able to pull down an eight-figure payday for the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Wahlberg earned about half as much for 2 Guns as the $20 million costar Washington brought in. His salary bump for Transformers is likely due to his appeal internationally, where he is a proven box office draw. It also helps that Michael Bay's Transformers series is a proven international hit. Shia LaBeouf reportedly earned $15 million for 2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which earned $1.1 billion worldwide.

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It's unclear whether Wahlberg's payday for the fourth Transformers film will mean he'll be able to continue to command such high earnings – but such a payday will help his team negotiate for any future tentpoles, especially if Age of Extinction is in line with previous Transformers films.

Perhaps Wahlberg will follow in the footsteps of Pain and Gain costar Dwayne Johnson, who is able to command $15 million for action movies thanks to three No. 1 movies in two months this year; G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Pain and Gain and Fast & Furious 6. Johnson will draw $12 million for the upcoming Brett Ratner-directed Hercules