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SPOILERS AHEAD: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you want to read our spoiler-free review, click here. The rest of you, read on… but know that you have been warned.
We know how much money Star Wars: The Force Awakens has brought in at the box office (answer: a lot) but let’s talk a bit about the money that it cost. Actors' salaries are often millions of dollars, making the talent one of the most expensive parts of the movie. But Harrison Ford was much more expensive than anybody else. According to a new report, he was paid over 50x more than some of his co-stars.
The exact amount of Ford’s total paycheck is not clear. The Daily Mail reported a figure as high as $25 million, but according to Variety the number is more likely somewhere between $10 million and $20 million. Regardless, it’s leaps and bounds above what the other actors received. Reports claim that Ford’s original trilogy partners, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, saw paydays in the low seven figures, while newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley received low six-figure paychecks, between $100,000 and $300,000. Conversely, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver saw high six-figure paydays because they had substantially more TV and film work. Those two likely had received more money than Ridley and Boyega for similar work before, so they could ask for it with Star Wars.
While the discrepancy between Ford’s payday and the other actors seems excessive there is, at least, some reason for it. While Luke and Leia have fairly minor roles in The Force Awakens, Han Solo is present from the beginning and carries it through to the end in his largest role in the franchise to date. Harrison Ford is also the biggest movie star in the group by far. Finally, this was a one-time paycheck, which meant the producers were probably a little more willing to part with more cash since he won't be appearing in future films. Think of it as Han Solo’s severance package.
There is still back end money to be had. However, in a move that only Star Wars could pull off, those payments don’t hit until the movie crossed the $1 billion mark. Fewer than 25 movies have ever done that, but with the opening weekend that The Force Awakens had, it’s a safe bet that they’ll get there. Also, it’s not clear if the money that was tied to preventing spoilers is being included in these salary totals or not. Mark Hamill admitted that he had money riding on whether or not certain things leaked. Whether that meant a reduction in salary, or a bonus on top is not known.
With the success that The Force Awakens has had, and the near universal praise for the new crop of actors, we expect that salaries will be a bit more in line going forward.