How Netflix Bankrolled The Highest-Paid Actors Of 2020 | Forbes

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Adam Sandler isn’t the star who movie studio executives call when looking for an actor who can deliver box office results. The former Saturday Night Live funny man peaked in 1998 when he sold $240 million worth of tickets at the domestic box office. Since then he’s been trending downward: Last year Sandler’s only movie to hit theaters was Uncut Gems, a critical darling that brought in only $51 million; Sandler earned just about $5 million. No matter: he still landed at No. 9 on the annual Forbes ranking of highest-paid actors. The secret? Netflix. The streaming giant paid Sandler $31 million— 75% of what he made all year—as part of his four-film, $250 million deal signed in 2014. Netflix users have streamed more than 2 billion hours of the funny man, which led to a fresh deal signed in January reportedly worth even more than the first.

While nobody got more from Netflix than Sandler in percentage terms, plenty of others benefited. This year’s 10 top-earning actors collected a combined $545.5 million, more than a quarter of that paid out by Netflix. The streaming giant, in fact, cut $140.5 million worth of checks to six of the top 10. The economics of star power are the same for Netflix as they have been for the traditional movie studios: If you draw a crowd, you get top dollar. For Netflix, though, the secret isn’t in the blockbuster box office results but in how many monthly subscriptions it will sign up and retain as a result. That’s a figure that is calculated using Netflix’s treasure trove of proprietary data, including the number of times a film is streamed and the number of repeat viewings, as well as a dash of an actor’s social following.

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