Since its first installment premiered on July 11, 2013, the Sharknado franchise has become practically invaluable to Syfy — but while the budget for each film has gotten bigger, the wage gap between female lead Tara Reid and her male costar Ian Ziering has reportedly remained the same.
This week’s issue of The Hollywood Reporter features an inside look at the surprise hit franchise in which it’s claimed that Reid — who starred in all four installments as well as the upcoming fifth, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming — makes about a quarter of what Ziering earns on each installment.
For Sharknado 5, THR reports that the budget was $3 million, double the cost of the original. Ziering, 53, who plays Fin Shepard, reportedly makes $500,000 per picture, which would mean Reid, 41, earns roughly $125,000.
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In a line that has since been amended in the THR story, the outlet claimed Syfy responded by launching the #AprilLives or #AprilDies social campaign, which asked fans whether or not to kill off her character, in response to Reid protesting the wage disparity during the filming of Sharknado 3. (Fans ultimately voted to let her live.) However, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PEOPLE the social marketing campaign was not a response to any salary negotiations and the network “flatly denied that the two incidents [were] related,” per THR.
“I think Sharknado cares more about their ‘extra of the day’ than they do about their own cast,” Reid told THR. “You work at something for five years and you don’t get treated as well as someone who shows up for a single day?”
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The feature also delves into how Reid was cast in the role of Fin’s ex-wife April. According to THR, Reid was cast after Teri Hatcher, Rebecca Romijn, Tiffani Thiessen and several others had already passed. Still, she was considered a big get for the project at the time.
“Tara had a profile,” says Gerald Webb, an actor and casting director who worked on the first three films (and appeared in the second). “Syfy liked her.”
Sharknado 5: Global Swarming premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on Syfy.