For yet another year, God’s own personal auditors at Forbes have hauled out their red pens to make note of which actors earning millions in order to play dress-up commands more millions than one would reasonably assume that particular job is worth. And, for yet another year, its list of Most Overpaid Actors is heavy on repeat offenders, all of them having been called out in the past for receiving a much larger compensation and production budget than the profit on their resulting movies would logically demand. And, for yet another year, all of them continued to do so, despite Forbes pointing this out time and again, with math. Indeed, it’s beginning to seem as though reason and logic are somehow not a factor in a studio choosing to make an Adam Sandler movie, choosing instead to go with its heart. (“’Heart’ sounds like ‘fart,’” Adam Sandler will say, and forthwith, Grown-Ups 3 has a green light.)
And while Sandler has made perennial appearances on Forbes’ list, the balance of stupid Adam Sandler movies vs. stupid Adam Sandler movies that also make money has typically kept him from topping it—that is, until the back-to-back Jack & Jill and That’s My Boy catapulted him to first place. By Forbes’ estimates, for every dollar that was spent on putting Sandler in various lengths of wig, he earned a mere $3.40 back. With that sort of ROI, it might be more prudent to just pay whatever the admission price is for Sandler and his friends to go to the pool, provided the resultant movie doesn’t also require Sno-Cones.
To be fair to Sandler, previous Most Overpaid Actors Eddie Murphy and Drew Barrymore returned just $2.30 and an all-time pitiful 40 cents for every dollar spent, a trend they both wisely reversed this year by not starring in enough films to qualify. And Sandler very narrowly edged out Katherine Heigl, who—for the movies she’s theoretically starred in lately—garnered $3.50 for every dollar spent, after adjusting for the currency rates of whatever faraway land they screened in. Meanwhile, both Reese Witherspoon and Nicolas Cage also held steady at $3.90 and $6 apiece, just happy to have achieved a state of equilibrium somewhere.
Newcomers to list include: Kevin James, whose Here Comes The Boom made the crucial marketing mistake of suggesting a delay of the boom; Steve Carell, whose Despicable Me 2 came out a month too late to undo the damage of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone; Jennifer Aniston, whose inclusion—despite Forbes’ arbitrary rules against “ensemble” actors, which required it to classify Aniston as the “star” of Wanderlust, but part of the “ensemble” of everything else in order to bring her average down—suggests Forbes just wanted tabloid-addled psychos to click on this and start ranting abput Angelina Jolie; Matt Damon, like so many of us, still being punished for We Bought A Zoo; and Ryan Reynolds, who somehow managed to return $10.40 for every $1 spent on R.I.P.D., in a formula that may well be studied someday by theoretical mathematicians.
The complete Top 10, with each actor’s average return for every dollar spent on their movies:
1. Adam Sandler ($3.40)
2. Katherine Heigl ($3.50)
3. Reese Witherspoon ($3.90)
4. Nicolas Cage ($6.00)
5. Kevin James ($6.10)
6. Denzel Washington ($8.30)
7. Steve Carell ($10)
8. Jennifer Aniston ($10.60)
9. Matt Damon ($10.60)
10. Ryan Reynolds ($10.70)