HOLLYWOOD actors regularly earn millions of dollars per movie, but are they worth it? Apparently some are.
A Forbes magazine survey published yesterday showed Matt Damon offers the best box-office return on his salary, more than twice that of Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise. Russell Crowe rates at the bottom of the list.
In Sydney last night for the Australian premiere of The Bourne Ultimatum, the third installment in the spy trilogy in which he stars, Damon said he understood why he was at the top of the list.
"Because I'm underpaid," he said. "I think they're using some funny math."
On Crowe's pitiful performance, Damon was sympathetic. "These things are so crazy, because if you had taken the same people and applied the same formula a couple of years ago, he [Crowe] would have come out on top. If you are on the shortlist, you have made it anyway."
Crowe's last three films - A Good Year, Cinderella Man and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - all disappointed at the box office and earned an average gross income of only $5 for each $1 of the actor's salary.
For every dollar Damon was paid for his last three roles, the films returned $US29 ($34) in gross income.
Jennifer Aniston was the top-ranked actress, making No. 5 on the list with a gross income return of $US17.
Damon's first two outings in the Bourne trilogy have grossed about $1 billion worldwide at the box office and in DVD sales, Forbes said. The latest installment opened last weekend, taking $US70.2 million at the US box office.
Aniston's rank was mainly because of her role in The Break-Up, which grossed about $US288 million worldwide.
Aniston's former husband, Brad Pitt, came in at No. 2, earning the film $US24 for every dollar of his salary, while Aniston's former boyfriend, Vince Vaughn, grabbed third spot with $US21, tying with Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp.
"The biggest stars in Hollywood are not the actors that deliver the biggest returns," said Michael Ozanian, the senior editor of Forbes.
The survey found that movies starring Hollywood heavyweights Hanks, Cruise and Will Smith averaged $US12, $US11 and $US10 in gross income respectively for every dollar of salary.
Funnymen Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey ranked near the bottom, with Sandler bringing in $US9 in gross income, and Ferrell and Carrey $US8.
"American comedies don't translate as well as action flicks to foreign audiences," Forbes said.
Forbes.com calculated the net revenue for a film by adding the worldwide box office and United States DVD revenues and then subtracting the budget.
Copyright © 2007. The Sydney Morning Herald.