Who would have thought it? Adam Sandler, a great actor in all sorts of films? It just doesn’t seem possible. The comedian/actor who rose to fame in the early ‘90s on Saturday Night Live, making a living with goofy characters with even goofier voices, is actually a pretty damn good when it comes to playing serious roles on the big screen as well. While that has always been the big question surrounding his talent, there is one thing that has never been in question – his box office draw making Adam Sandler’s net worth among the highest out there.
Ever since his first solo outing in the 1995 hit comedy, Billy Madison, Sandler has continued to defy all acting logic and did the one thing that has made him one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood and that is to put butts in the seats. It’s all made Adam Sandler’s net worth one of the biggest in the industry.
HOW OLD IS ADAM SANDLER?
Adam Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1966. Although the now 55-year-old actor has his roots in New York, he was actually raised in Manchester, New Hampshire as his family moved to the city when he was six years old. Sandler attended high school in Manchester but from there returned to New York where he went to college at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he also graduated in 1988. Adam Sandler accumulating a massive net worth seemed far-fetched at the time.
Before graduating, Sandler got his first acting gig on the then-popular The Cosby Show. He played Theo Huxtable’s (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) friend, Smitty, in four episodes. After graduating college, Sandler got his first feature film in Going Overboard. During this time, he was also starting to hit all the comedy clubs trying to refine his stand-up routine. It was Saturday Night Live veteran Dennis Miller who discovered Sandler at a Los Angeles Comedy Club and who also recommended him to Lorne Michaels, creator, and producer of Saturday Night Live.
ADAM SANDLER’S EARLY RETURNS
Like many of the comedians who hit the stage for Saturday Night Live, Adam Sandler got his start with the long-running comedy show as a writer. He was hired on by Michaels in 1990 writing comedy sketches and also performing in them every now and then during his first year. In 1991, Sandler was brought on as a regular and his comedic rise began.
Sandler enjoyed five years of success on SNL and during his time on the show, he also found himself in feature films. He got bit parts in movies such as Shakes the Clown, Coneheads, Airheads, and Mixed Nuts. It was at the end of Sandler’s fifth year when he found out that he was not coming back to SNL.
To many following his career, it appeared that Adam Sandler left SNL on his own accord to get into feature films, but that was not the case. During Sandler’s final two seasons at SNL, the program was hitting some dubiously low marks in terms of its popularity. NBC executives were not happy, nor were they happy with Sandler’s behind-the-scenes shenanigans. So he, along with Chris Farley, was let go in favor of a whole new cast.
Looking back, though, it was probably one of the best unintentional moves in Sandler’s career as it led him to one of his most memorable films, Billy Madison. All these years later, Sandler would return to SNL as a guest host. His monologue featured a fun song called “I Was Fired” that he performed for the audience and featured a couple of surprise singers. He made sure, in the song, to point out the mistake NBC had made by letting him go and just how much of a winner he now was.
ADAM SANDLER’S NET WORTH STARTS RISING
For Adam Sandler’s performance in Billy Madison, the actor earned a cool $1.7 million. Not bad for his first solo effort. The popularity of that film led him to his next feature and a teeny bit of a higher payday, to the tune of $2 million. This film was Happy Gilmore, and it would be those first two films that would play a significant role in Sandler’s future as an actor and eventual producer. Happy Gilmore made $41 million at the box office and while those numbers appear tame in today’s world of big-budget, big-earnings films, for Sandler it was the beginning of something much bigger.
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Adam Sandler’s next film would pair him up with another comedian on the rise, Damon Wayans. Wayans was a big part of In Living Color’s success, so the smart move was to bring these two comedians together and put them in an action buddy cop film called Bulletproof. Although the film opened at number one with a box office take of $6 million, the film fizzled quickly and only brought in a total of $21.5 million.
That didn’t faze Sandler in the least because his next two movies solidified his rising star. The first one was the 1998 romantic comedy hit The Wedding Singer. In it, he starred opposite Drew Barrymore and audiences loved it. The film brought in $123.3 million, though that number would be dwarfed by Sandler’s second movie in 1998, The Waterboy. As Bobby Boucher, Adam Sandler found his comedic groove. Audiences loved it even more than his rom-com and helped bring in over $190 million at the box office. Adam Sandler was becoming box office gold, even though critics were taking him to the cleaners.
Big Daddy came next, and it still ranks as one of Adam Sandler’s highest-grossing films not called Hotel Transylvania. Big Daddy brought in almost $229 million at the box office and over the next seven years, Sandler was very consistent with his box office returns. Here are some numbers:
Little Nicky (2000) – $58 million
Mr. Deeds (2002) – $171 million
Punch-Drunk Love (2002) – $24.5 million
Anger Management (2003) – $195.5 million
50 First Dates (2004) – $196.3 million
Spanglish (2004) – $54.3 million
The Longest Yard (2005) – $191.5 million
In 2006, Adam Sandler released Click and that movie knock Big Daddy off the top perch of Sandler’s highest-grossing films as Click brought in nearly $238 million.
ADAM SANDLER’S BIG BOX OFFICE AND A NET WORTH INCREASE
Adam Sandler is a big box office draw, that point is perfectly clear. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry brought in nearly $186 million. You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Bedtime Stories both topped the $200 million mark and even Jack & Jill cleared $150 million at the box office.
For a film that was widely panned by critics (as so many of Sandler’s films have been), Grown Ups in 2010 continues to be his biggest non-animated box office film with $272.2 million. Even more widely panned was Grown Ups 2 and that brought in $247 million. Pixels, which owns an 18% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, almost hit $250 million at the box office.
Since we are on the subject of box office draw, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Adam Sandler’s three highest-grossing films of all time. These would be all three in the Hotel Transylvania series. The first animated film came out in 2012 and tickled audiences to the tune of $378.2 million. Hotel Transylvania 2 was released in 2015 and brought in $470 million, and the third film in the franchise, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, was released in 2018 and earned a whopping $528 million at the box office.
ADAM SANDLER’S BIG PAYDAY
From where he started with Billy Madison to where he is at right now, Adam Sandler’s paydays have increased dramatically. Just from Billy Madison to The Wedding Singer, Sandler increased his take home almost five times, with a $5.5 million salary. This jumped to $8 million for Big Daddy. One of his biggest jumps came with Little Nicky when the comedian made $20 million for the film plus another 20% he got on the backend. For Anger Management, Sandler received $25 million for his role against 25% of the film’s gross, whichever ended up being higher. Sandler was a big winner as he was able to pass on the $25 million salary and instead bring home over $45 million.
Back in 1999, Adam Sandler saw where his future was heading. The smart businessman in him not only saw how successful he could be in front of the camera, but he also saw that he could have much more control of his films if he also did the hard work behind the scenes. With that in mind, Sandler took the success of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore and combined them to create Happy Madison Productions.
The first film out of the gate for Happy Madison was one you may have heard of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. From there Happy Madison has gone on to produce a number of critically panned, yet highly profitable films such as Joe Dirt, The Animal, The Master of Disguise, Grandma’s Boy, The Benchwarmers, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Here Comes the Boom, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.
THAT NETFLIX DEAL
You have to give Netflix credit for bringing Adam Sandler into the fold. After seeing just how much Sandler and his team of comedians (David Space, Chris Rock, Kevin James, and Rob Schneider) have meant to audiences around the globe, Netflix decided to offer Sandler a big chunk of change for him to make movies for them. So, in 2014 Sandler signed his first lucrative deal with the streaming giant to make his films for Netflix. The first deal with Netflix brought him $15 million per film he starred in plus an additional $5 million as the film’s producer.
To date, Sandler has made six films with Netflix (The Ridiculous Six, The Do-Over, Sandy Wexler, The Week Of, Murder Mystery, and 100% Fresh) and they have all been very successful. Murder Mystery, where Sandler co-stars with Jennifer Aniston, saw the highest numbers ever for a Netflix film. His films have been so successful on the streamer that they recently signed Sandler to make four more films and will pay him in the neighborhood of $275 million. One of these films was just released on Netflix called Hustle with much critical acclaim. His next film will be Spaceman and will follow that up with the highly anticipated sequel, Murder Mystery 2.
ADAM SANDLER’S NET WORTH
So, with all this talk of box office and contracts and the like, it will come as no surprise to hear that Adam Sandler has one of the highest net worths in Hollywood. With him bringing in an average of $20 million per film before he signed his Netflix deal, Sandler was already sitting pretty. But his Netflix deal has moved him into the lofty territory. Right now, Adam Sandler’s net worth is sitting at $450 million. This puts him on Forbes Top Ten Hollywood’s Richest actors list at number six, sitting behind such big names as Tom Cruise (5), Dwayne Johnson (4), Jerry Seinfeld (3), Tyler Perry (2), and Jami Gertz (1). While you may not be familiar with Gerz, her money isn’t all due to her acting, but also from the fact that she is married to LA-based billionaire Tony Ressler, and she is part-owner of the Atlanta Hawks National Basketball Association team.
For someone whose critics take a swipe at him on a consistent basis, Adam Sandler (and his net worth) has come a long way. He continues to produce massive hits, and he has proven with films like Uncut Gems and Hustle, that he doesn’t have to create silly characters with silly voices to be noticed. He’s bankable and his net worth only proves just how much.