Man at His Best

What The Cast And Crew On Movies Actually Get Paid

Rough breakdown of wages on a hypothetical USD200 million blockbuster.

BY Jason S Ganesan | Jun 9, 2016 | Film & TV

Vanity Fair/ YouTube

We know A-list actors earn as much per movie as footballers do in a year (or roughly what the rest of us make in about five or six lifetimes). But what about all of the other faceless behind-the-scenes toilers who make a movie happen? The writers, casting agents, costume designers, and the dudes who paint Jennifer Lawrence blue?  

Vanity Fair attempts to answer this with their rough breakdown of what everyone earns on a USD200 million blockbuster. For context, USD200 million is roughly the production cost of a mid-level blockbuster like Days of Future Past, Green Lantern or Prince of Persia. Heavyweights like The Force Awakens, Captain America: Civil War—and bizarrely, even the pointless Lone Ranger—cost a whole lot more.

In this hypothetical—which is calculated based on standard union rates—only the director, lead actors, chief writer and 2nd unit director take home over US$ 1 million. The editor comes close with USD924,500 and the composer USD800,000 for the score.

Single scene actors earn in the low thousands, depending on billing order, and one-day extras earn about USD148 a day. Lead stuntmen make upwards of USD100,000, while stand-ins make around USD29,000.

Most important of all, this video helps answer the eternal question that has gripped cinemagoers for decades: does the ‘A’ dolly grip operator earn more than the ‘B’ dolly grip operator?

The answer is no.