When we say Dwayne Johnson is a big Hollywood star, we’re not just talking about the towering physique this former wrestler brings to his performances. Johnson regularly headlines major action films, and these films generally perform very well at the box office. That affects his acting salary in a big way: Johnson will be paid $50 million for his upcoming film Red One, which will be “the highest payday for any actor paid for a single role.”
Dwayne Johnson is being paid $50 million for his part in the upcoming Amazon Prime Video original Red One, which is now the biggest payday any actor has received for a single film role.
To put Dwayne Johnson’s historic payday in context, the previous highest payday for a single role went to Will Smith for King Richard and Robert Downey Jr. for Captain America: Civil War. Each of those actors received a tidy $40 million for their performances, but Johnson’s $50 million payday means that he now commands a higher price than Iron Man himself.
Why is Johnson receiving an acting salary equal to one-quarter of the entire production budget for The Flash?
Of course, there is something ironic about Dwayne Johnson getting a bigger payday than the largest of the MCU stars. He recently tried to make his own foray into superhero films with the DCEU disaster Black Adam, and while it didn’t bomb as hard as The Flash recently did, that movie served as one of the final nails in the DCEU coffin ahead of James Gunn’s upcoming DCU reboot.
A history of mostly successful movies doesn’t necessarily paint the full picture of why Dwayne Johnson is getting paid this staggering amount for a single film. CNN reports that one reason actors are currently on strike is that only 12.7 percent make $26,470 or more per year, which is the minimum amount to qualify for union healthcare.
In a time when the vast majority of actors are financially struggling, the blunt question becomes quite simple: why is Johnson receiving an acting salary equal to one-quarter of the entire production budget for The Flash?
The short answer is that Red One is an Amazon film, and Amazon is gambling that audience love for Dwayne Johnson will be enough to make people sign up for Amazon Prime and stream the upcoming film in record numbers. This recently happened on Netflix: Johnson starred in Netflix’s Red Notice, a film that critics hated and audiences loved.
The previous highest payday for a single role went to Will Smith for King Richard and Robert Downey Jr. for Captain America: Civil War.
It quickly became Netflix’s most-watched movie of all time, and Amazon is clearly hoping that having its own Johnson-starring film (with a similar title, no less) will help them achieve similar records.
It may seem crazy for one actor to make so much money for a single film, it’s not exactly surprising. Dwayne Johnson was the highest-paid actor in 2019 and 2020, and it looks like he will hold the same record for 2023.
Studios wouldn’t be shelling out these kinds of big bucks if they weren’t happy with how much money Johnson was bringing them, and only time will tell if he ends up making Amazon equally happy. If you’d like to see whether they paid too much or just enough to smell what The Rock is cooking, you can stream Red One when it premieres this holiday season on Amazon Prime.