Oscars 2024: The highest-paid actors ranked by earnings per minute of screen time

In March, just days before the Academy Awards, Forbes listed Adam Sandler as the highest-paid actor of 2023, with earnings estimated at $73 million. While the comedian isn’t famous for starring in a lot of top-rated films, he certainly is one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood. Many of his colleagues, the 2024 Oscar nominees, in particular, received much more modest paychecks for their work.

Or did they? The team at Tradingpedia set out to examine actors’ earnings relative to the time they appear on screen in the films for which they received an Academy Award nomination. As a rule of thumb, Hollywood productions pay actors salaries based not only on the actual work they do but their A-list status, too. So, are “the hardest-working” actors, i.e. the ones with the most screen time, those who earn the most?

We looked at the 2024 Academy Awards nominees’ reported salaries and calculated how much they have made per minute of screen time. According to our research, fame seems to be directly linked to an actor’s paycheck; not the time you are shown on screen. Bradley Cooper (Maestro), the actor seen the most as a percentage of the film’s entire runtime (72.05%), ranks 6th when it comes to earnings per minute.

2024 Oscar Winners: How Much Did They Earn?

According to Forbes’ Highest-Paid Actors of 2023 ranking, Adam Sandler (Murder Mystery 2) was the highest-paid actor last year, making $73 million after paying his manager, agent, and lawyer (or $97 million in gross earnings). Interestingly, the list also includes a few stars from Oscar-nominated titles. Margot Robbie ranks second with $59 million in net earnings for 2023, while her Barbie co-star Ryan Gosling, along with Matt Damon (Oppenheimer, Air), appears in the 4th position with $43 million. Not a single Oscar winner from the 2024 Academy Awards makes it to the top 10 list.

Emma Stone

Earning more than $231,200 per minute of screen time in Poor Things, two-time Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone appears as the highest-paid Oscar winner this year. For her performance in the odd Frankenstein-inspired fantasy film, she took home the Oscar for Actress in a leading role, beating Annette Bening (Nyad), Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon), Sandra Hüller (Anatomy of a Fall), and Carey Mulligan (Maestro).

Her reported salary for the film, an impressive $22.5 million, seems a little too high considering the production budget was only $35 million. Still, her paycheck is not unexpected given Stone’s undeniable star power. Her name alone is believed to have been a driving force in the film’s box office success. It grossed more than $34.5 million domestically, while ticket sales reached $112.4 million worldwide.

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr., one of Hollywood’s A-list stars, received only $4 million for his supporting role in Oppenheimer, as did Emily Blunt and Matt Damon according to Variety. Downey who was listed as the highest-paid actor by Forbes between 2013 and 2015 typically earns $10 million to $20 million per project, which means that for Christopher Nolan’s 3-hour epic, the Iron Man actor took only a fraction of his usual payday. For his performance, he made just under $168,000 per minute of screen time, our calculations show.

Money is not everything, however; Downey has praised Oppenheimer as “the best film” he has ever been in. For his portrayal of Lewis Strauss, he received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Cillian Murphy

Irish actor Cillian Murphy, this year’s winner in the Actor in a leading role category at the Academy Awards, reportedly earned $10 million for his work in Oppenheimer. He is seen in 113 minutes and 10 seconds in the three-hour movie, which means his earnings per minute of screen time are roughly $88,365. This puts him 9th on the list and below the other two Oppenheimer cast members.

The film achieved both critical and commercial success, grossing more than $968 million globally. For his memorable portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Murphy received the Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph

For many, American actress and singer Da’Vine Joy Randolph was the surprising winner at the Oscars this year. She played Mary Lamb, a cook and grieving mother, in the comedy-drama The Holdovers, for which she received multiple nominations and took home not only an Oscar but also a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award.

According to media publications, she was paid $200,000 for her work, less than Paul Giamatti who was in the leading role and got a salary of $750,000. If that is true, this would mean Randolph earned around $7,848 per minute of screen time since she can be seen in 25 minutes and 29 seconds of the film (19% of the total runtime).

Actors Who Got the Lion’s Share of the Film Budget

When looking at actors’ salaries, we cannot help but wonder about the cost of making these films and the profits that were actually made from tickets. Tom Cruise, one of Hollywood’s richest stars, famously made more than $100 million from Top Gun: Maverick, while the budget for producing the film is estimated at around $170 million. As unbelievable as it seems, Cruise’s earnings are correct; the salary he received upfront, however, was $12.5 million, while the rest was the percentage he made from the box office.

When it comes to this year’s Academy Award nominees and winners, however, certain salaries do seem odd. When we compare actors’ earnings to the film budgets, Emma Stone emerges as the one who got the lion’s share. Poor Things’ budget of $35 million is only slightly bigger than what she received ($22.5 million) according to the rumors. Her earnings equal a massive 64.29% of the production budget.

Jeffrey Wright and his salary for the satirical comedy American Fiction is another interesting salary-to-budget ratio. For his role as disgruntled professor and author Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, Wright reportedly received $4 million, an impressive amount, which is, however, nowhere near the typical salaries of A-list stars. Yet, the film was produced on a budget of only $10,000, which means his earnings represent 40% of that.

The Highest-Paid Oscar Nominees (As Pay per Minute)

Out of all 2024 Oscar nominees, no one has been better compensated for each minute of work than Ryan Gosling. For every minute his face is seen in last year’s mega hit Barbie, Gosling has earned nearly $431,300, our calculations show. According to a Variety report, for playing Ken, he received the same amount as the lead in Greta Gerwig’s film, an impressive paycheck of $12.5 million (although Margot Robbie must have made much more due to her role as a producer of the film).

Compared to the overall Barbie budget, Gosling’s salary seems quite believable. Variety also estimates that Warner Bros. spent a staggering $150 million promoting Barbie – more than the production cost of $145 million. The investment apparently paid off when the movie became the most successful film of 2023, grossing more than $1.445 billion globally. So, the Canadian actor was paid roughly 4.24% of the overall budget.

America Ferrera, the other Oscar nominee from the film, has scenes totalling 22 minutes and 8 seconds in length, for which she received a salary of $1 million (0.34% of the budget). This places her in the 11th position in our ranking with earnings of roughly $45,200 per minute of screen time.

Ranking second on the list with $237,624 in pay per minute of screen time is Emily Blunt, the British actress who also agreed on a pay cut for the opportunity to work in Oppenheimer. Blunt received $4 million, playing the scientist’s wife, Kitty, a portrayal for which she received a nomination for an Oscar, as well as Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA Award nominations. We calculated that this salary is around 2.22% of the production budget.

In the 3rd and 4th positions, we see Poor ThingsEmma Stone (3rd, $231,204 pay per minute) and Mark Rufallo (4th, $192,823 pay per minute). Rufallo’s reported salary of $6 million (17.14% of the film budget) for his supporting role is much lower than what Stone earned as a lead (64.29% of the budget). Yet, in terms of pay per minute of screen time, they made similar amounts. While Emma Stone’s on-screen time is 97 minutes or 69% of the film’s runtime, Rufallo is seen in 31 minutes, or just over 22% of the entire film.

Robert Downey Jr., ranking 5th with $167,800 earned per minute of screen time, received 2.22% of the production budget. He is followed by Bradley Cooper, who was nominated by the Academy for his portrayal of composer Leonard Bernstein in Maestro. Calculations show he made roughly $107,600 per minute of being on screen. Along with his performance in the film, the actor also received multiple nominations for his writing, direction, and production. So, his reported salary of only $10 million is a little surprising; we suspect Cooper actually earned much more for his work on the movie, which had a budget of $80 million. For his acting alone, he took an equivalent of 12.5% of the budget.

The Richest Actors in the World as of April 2024

The entertainment industry may be one of the most lucrative sectors, paying seven-figure salaries sometimes. Very few actors and actresses, however, are among the 2,727 billionaires currently around the world, as estimated by Forbes (figures as of April 19, 2024). In fact, the richest people in the industry are directors, film execs and producers, including DreamWorks founder David Geffen (Hollywood’s richest person with a net worth of $8 billion), Star Wars creator George Lucas ($5.5 billion), director Steven Spielberg ($4.8 billion), and former Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter ($4.4 billion).

Moreover, the richest actors’ main sources of wealth rarely include earnings from acting jobs. Only three actors and actresses have a net worth estimated at $1 billion or more. The person with the most impressive wealth is actress Jami Gertz, known for her roles in Twister (1996) and The Lost Boys (1987). In 2001, she received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for portraying Kimmy Bishop in Fox’s hit series Ally McBeal.

She has worked mostly on TV productions in recent years, with no notable film appearances in her resume. The reason why she is so rich – having roughly $3 billion, is her years-long marriage to billionaire business executive Tony Ressler, co-founder of private equity firms Apollo Managemen and Ares Management. Since 2015, Gertz’s husband has been the principal owner of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team; the couple also co-owns the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball. Their combined net worth is estimated at $8 billion or more.

Actor, producer, director and playwright Tyler Perry ranks as the second richest actor in the world with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion. In 2011, he topped the Forbes list of the highest-paid men in entertainment with $130 million in earnings from May 2010 to May 2011 beating Jerry Bruckheimer and Steven Spielberg. He is a prolific actor and producer; most of his wealth comes from his production company and the Madea movie franchise he created but he has also starred in hit Hollywood productions such as Star Trek (2009), Gone Girl (2014), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016), and Don’t Look Up (2021).

With a net worth of $ 1 billion, according to Bloomberg, comedian Jerry Seinfeld ranks third on our list thanks to the sitcom Seinfeld. He has earned most of his wealth from global syndication sales since he and co-creator Larry David own a percentage of Seinfeld’s back-end equity points. The actor has also earned millions from his national tours and deals with Netflix.


To calculate actors and actresses’ earnings per minute of screen time, we used statistics collected by ScreenTimeCentral, as well as varios media reports for their salaries (Variety, Medium, ShowbizGalore). We also looked at the revenues from film tickets from BoxOfficeMojo and TheNumbers.

However, data was unavailable for the movie Nyad. We believe its production budget must have been at least $10 million due to its amazing visual effects and use of CGI. Given their acclaim, actresses Annette Bening and Jodie Foster should have been paid a minimum of $1 million each. Also, we could not find box office data for Rustin; it was released in select theaters on November 3, 2023. The film premiered worldwide on Netflix two weeks later. The ticket sales of $15,000 are pure speculation on our part, as is the $500,000 salary for Colman Domingo.

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