Eddie Murphy is poised for some box-office success with the release of “Tower Heist,” which if it performs up to expectations will halt a trend of underwhelming earnings for his recent live-action movies.
And if it does, maybe he’ll move down Forbes’ list of the most overpaid actors in showbiz, where he currently sits at No. 2.
The magazine has released its annual list of stars who provide the least bang for the bucks they earn. Murphy is second to — somewhat surprisingly — Drew Barrymore, who according to Forbes only offered a return of 40 cents for every dollar she was paid for her recent starring roles. Murphy was second on the list, earning a return of $2.70 for every dollar he was paid.
The Top 10 also includes such big names as Denzel Washington, Reese Witherspoon and Tom Cruise. They all command hefty salaries, and if even one of their movies underperforms, it can knock the pay-vs.-return ratio out of whack.
To qualify for the list, actors had to have starred in at least three movies that opened in 500 theaters or more in the past five years. Animated movies aren’t counted — Forbes reasons that the stars aren’t really the draw for those films, so the “Shrek” franchise can’t boost Murphy’s ranking — and supporting roles and ensemble pieces are tossed out as well. Thus “He’s Just Not That Into You,” in which Barrymore was part of a big cast of well-known actors (and which made better than $180 million), doesn’t count.
The return-on-investment figure comes from dividing the operating income on a star’s last three movies by what he or she was paid for those films. Based on those figures, the 10 most overpaid actors in Hollywood are:
1. Drew Barrymore, 40 cents return for every $1 earned
2. Eddie Murphy, $2.70
3. Will Ferrell, $3.50
4. Reese Witherspoon, $3.55
5. Denzel Washington, $4.25
6. Nicolas Cage, $4.40
7. Adam Sandler, $5.20
7 (tie). Vince Vaughn, $5.20
9. Tom Cruise, $6.35
10. Nicole Kidman, $6.70