Is Wonder Woman‘s real arch-nemesis the glass ceiling?
With the superheroine’s new movie already raking in $573 million worldwide, reports that Gal Gadot earned just $300,000 to star in the film have caused a super stir on social media. The number was especially eye-popping in comparison to Henry Cavill’s rumored $14 million haul for his first outing as Superman in Man of Steel.
At first glance, the disparity seems like just another example of the very real gender pay gap in Hollywood. But according to industry experts, a relatively modest base salary is not unusual for newcomers to the superhero genre, regardless of gender. Furthermore, the actress will likely have ample opportunity to capitalize on the film’s success in the future, including bonuses for box office performance that could already be included in her contract.
First, it’s important to note that Cavill’s rumored $14 million earnings include bonuses for box office performance, according to the Elle article that sparked much of the controversy on Tuesday. Furthermore, Donald N. David, a celebrity estate attorney, tells PEOPLE, “Given the economics of doing such movies, I find it most unlikely that $14 million figure is accurate.”
Gadot’s $300,000 figure, on the other hand, referred strictly to her base salary, according to a 2014 Variety report.
Also, a source familiar with Cavill and Gadot’s negotiations now tells The Hollywood Reporter that Gadot made the same amount upfront, if not slightly more, on Wonder Woman than Cavill made on 2013’s Man of Steel.
Low base salaries for newcomers is not unusual, or even unique to the film industry, according to David. “For example, in the TV world, the financial benefits of renewed series result in substantially higher salaries, which in some cases ultimately end up killing the shows, as the cast starts to get higher and higher salaries,” he explains.
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“With movies, it seems that superhero films have this problem all of the time, because often the first movie stars relative unknowns, who gain value specifically because of the role they play,” David adds, pointing to past examples like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky. “The first Rocky movie was shot in 28 days for $1 million, and you know where Stallone went,” he says.
Moving forward, Gadot will have plenty of options to profit further. David, who has not seen Gadot’s contract, says, “Typically, when someone is signed to such a contract, where there are a series of movies contemplated, the companies are not stupid.
“They know that they don’t want to be held hostage for having created an identified personality for such a role, and will do a three-movie contract, which fixes the salary for up to three films at either an increasing base salary or a base salary predicated upon the earnings of the prior movie,” he adds. Gadot’s contract contains an option for a sequel, Vanity Fair reports.
“Also, it would not be unusual in such a situation for there to be an override based upon gross receipts, which would be different for domestic and international,” says David, explaining that it’s not too late for Gadot to negotiate a piece of the earnings for the first film.
With Wonder Woman‘s success, especially compared to lackluster outings from her co-heroes in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, Gadot’s final take should eventually make her one of the top earners in the Justice League.