brightcove.createExperiences(); They’re some of the biggest sitcom stars in history, and they’ve got the bank accounts to prove it.
The worlds of Friends (sans Chandler Bing) and The Big Bang Theory collided over the weekend when the casts gathered at a dinner to celebrate NBC’s Must See TV: A Tribute to James Burrows.
But what do these eight have in common besides an affinity for James Burrows? A lot of money – and some of the biggest paychecks in the business.
Let’s break down their astronomical salaries, shall we?
At the height of the show’s fame, each Friend was making $1 million per episode. The group consistently had equal paycheck, and in fact it was because of their commitment to sticking together that they were able to get their pay hike: The cast famously banded together during salary negotiations.
“The rationale is that the show is generating an enormous amount of money,” Lisa Kudrow told HuffPost Live “So the rationale is that it’s affordable to whoever has to pay it. For any actor, you should try to get as much as you can, ’cause you never know, even if you’re in contract for five years.”
This bump in salary (which show creator Martha Kauffman now calls “kinda ridiculous”) came in 2002, two years before the show’s 10th and final season.
As crazy $1 million per episode seems, it’s somewhat justified when you hear how many people were watching Friends at the time: 25 million viewers per week. Keep in mind, too, that this is 100 percent live viewing (2004 being pre-Hulu and just at the dawn of the DVR.)
The Big Bang Theory
When the three stars of BBT – Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Johnny Galecki – cemented their own $1 million-per-episode paychecks in 2014, the comparisons to Friends were inevitable.
But it’s important to keep in mind that it was a huge bump for the BBT cast. They’d previously made $325,000 (which, really, you could find in your couch cushions, right?) per episode before inking their $1 million deals. Their fellow cast members may not be making quite that much, but their paychecks are still pretty hefty. For example, Simon Helberg, the fourth BBT cast member in Cuoco’s ‘gram, makes $750,000 per episode.
And while Big Bang‘s numbers are big, they’re not Friends big: For the show’s eighth season, they averaged 19 million viewers per episode. Of course, now that we are in the age of Internet-enabled viewing, that skews a direct comparison between the shows’ ratings somewhat.
So if eight of these cast members is making $1 million per episode and one is making $750,000 at their highest-earning period – although, who knows, there’s still another season of The Big Bang Theory to come – that means that collectively, 23 minutes of their on-screen time is worth $8.75 million. Let’s assume that this photo took a minute to take, when you account for wrangling the casts, finding someone to take the picture, multiple snaps and checks to see if you wanted a retake (we’ve all been there).
That means that this one little Instagram is technically worth $380,434.
And to think you got it for free.