Scarlett Johansson: $20 Million For The Avengers 2

According to The New York Post, Scarlett Johansson will become Hollywood's highest-paid woman, snagging a cool $20 million paycheck for assembling for the sequel to this spring's humble, low-budget sleeper hit The Avengers. This will mean that for her supporting role -- because there was no official lead in the ensemble superhero flick -- she will receive one million more dollars than Angelina Jolie made for her lead role in The Tourist, which was a colossal flop and a running joke at the Golden Globes in 2011. Does this mean more screen time for the Black Widow? Does it mean shawarma every night of the week? Is she making anywhere near what Robert Downey Jr. will make? (Answer to that: No, but no one is, really.)

E! is saying this might just be a rumor, that such a paycheck has not been confirmed by Johansson's reps. But that doesn't necessarily mean that $20 million is that unreasonable, at least by Hollywood standards. For one thing, Scarlett Johansson is what the kids call "like, super famous." And people who are super famous make super amounts of money. Think back to the mid-1990s when Jim Carrey was super famous, at the apex of his career, and became the highest paid comedy actor in Hollywood by getting $20 million (in 1995 dollars!) for The Cable Guy. (A movie that is excellent, by the way.) People thought that was insane! But $20 million now is practically pocket change for The Famous, except when it isn't. Sometimes it's a big deal, like when it's breaking records. Julia Roberts broke that record-slash-glass ceiling after she kicked all that ass in Erin Brokovich back in 2000.

Mostly, if this $20 million paycheck is true, it's a generous raise from the $400,000 Johansson received for her first appearance as Black Widow in Iron Man 2. "We liked you that much, and we also made that much, so let's go ahead and make sure you come back so we can recreate all the good times we had." [Not an actual quote, just an imagined scenario.]

For a comparison, Robert Downey Jr. will probably end up with over $50 million for the first movie (that's including box office bonuses, backend compensation, etc. not just the initial paycheck). The rest of the cast -- Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, and Chris Hemsworth -- all agreed to relatively small salaries plus bonuses and will make $2-3 million each. Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson actually got about twice that much, plus bonuses. However, in addition to Johansson, everyone will likely get themselves a hefty, hefty raise for the sequel.

But if you really want to stick someone with the bar tab, make it Johnny Depp, who made an estimated $250 million on all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

(New York Post via Blastr)


  1. Oh, there are plans for a sequel?  I never would have expected it.  The original art house movie did okay here but I was pretty sure that these characters had been pretty fully explored.

    Well, I suppose it’s better than rebooting the brand.  I half expect to start getting a new Spiderman movie every summer the way things are going.

  2. Didn’t I just read that these kind of paychecks aren’t real? That such stars sign a second, secret contract where they get only 10% of what they’re supposed to get.

    1. Exactly. She’s not getting 20 million, she’s getting at most 5 and she gets to say she’s getting 20.

    1.  In a twisted kind of way, it was. The reported budget for the Avengers was $220m. Lots right? But they had a cast of 5 top A/B-list actors, any one of which regularly stars in their own productions. A large secondary cast and a massive amount of visual effects.

      To contrast the new Spider-Man, with a much smaller and lower visibility cast is $230m. The last MIB film was $215. The last Pirates film was $300m

  3. You know, I was hoping that a new editor would mean more news about new, interesting, obscure media projects.   Like the new iamamiwhoami CD/DVD ‘kin’, which is fantastic.

  4. That’s nice.  I met her when she was in town filming The Island and she was very kind to me.  People who are pleasant to strangers when they don’t have to be should thrive.   I was glad to see that Black Widow was more than a generic hot ass-kicking girl character in the film.  Still not a whole lot for an actor to work with but it was better than the typical female subsidiary hero role.

  5. I went into that film expecting her to be nothing but ass-kicking cheesecake, but she has a numbers of scenes in the Avengers where they actually ask her to act, and she does it very well. My favorites were her deceptive interview with Loki, and a rather subtle scene where she has a near-miss with angry Hulk and sits quivering on the ground, and then picks herself up. That one didn’t have any dialog, but it really developed her character as a human being.

    1.  She really made the most out of each scene. I’d add the opening scene between her and Bruce Banner. Great tension and subtle reactions.

      She’s playing the action star/eye candy a lot these days so it’s easy to forget that she has held down roles like Ghost World with great skill in the past. I would be completely unsurprised if she is still a well known actor forty years from now.

    1. I dont think he’s signed on for a sequel yet. Knowing Marvel though, they’ll fast track something into production with a different director, thereby changing all the chemistry that made the first one so good.

  6. Honestly $400k for her scenes in Iron Man 2 isn’t that bad.  She wasn’t exactly a key star in the film, more like an introduction to the character.

    And the thing about Robert Downey Jr., well he practically is Tony Stark (minus the zillionare part).  I’m not sure you could have found many other actors that would have fit the role that well.

    1. I would say that Robert Downey Jr.’s similarities to Tony Stark include the zillionaire part (well, really rich at any rate). It’s the super-genius technology maven he’s not.

  7. “The Tourist, which was a colossal flop”
    Actually, *The Tourist* grossed $278 million theatrically from a $100 million reported budget, which probably means it recouped its expenses in theaters and made more than a decent profit in the ancillary markets (DVD, Netflix, cable, etc. etc.)

    1.  Perhaps a different dialogue pattern in foreign movies made it a different film. I know I almost went to see it just for the stars. I only saw parts of it on TV. Apart from the super-star leads, it felt like a weak B-roll movie.

  8. She was the best thing- well, her scenes were- in a movie that I thought did not reach the hype or greatness level that was almost universally ascribed to it.

      1. I had to read to the end of comments, but someone finally has something less than glowingly positive to say about the worst part of Ghost World.

        I haven’t seen Johansson in much so I can’t make a blanket judgment.  But I can say she’s been at best ignorable in everything I have seen her in.  (Ignorable in terms of acting; she’s clearly a very nice looking young woman.)

    1. And while I’m at it, neither did Don Heck, who drew the first Silver Age Black Widow…

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