Salary sexism: the “Passengers” debacle
If Passengers, a science fiction/love story set in space, were greenlit today, it would star both Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, and be directed by Morten Tyldum, the director of The Imitation Game. According to Yahoo, one of the most salient reasons that Passengers has not been greenlit is that Jennifer Lawrence wants to be paid $20 million dollars upfront.
I cannot think of a justifiable reason why any movie actor or actress should be paid this much, but four actors and one actress do get paid this much and more. According to The Hollywood Reporter, these four actors and one actress are paid at least $20 million per film: Matt Damon, Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr., and Sandra Bullock. Because Jennifer Lawrence has been nominated for 3 Oscars and won one, Jennifer Lawrence has more Oscar nominations than Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and Sandra Bullock and one more Oscar win than Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and Leonardo DiCaprio. Yet, it is controversial and undesirable for Sony to pay her at the same rate that these other actors are paid?
Sony, the studio behind Passengers, could pay any actress other than Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Lawrence less to play the same role in Passengers, but Lawrence offers a rare skill set; beauty, star power, and great raw acting talent. Lawrence has captured the nuances of every character she portrays, including: Raven/Mystique in The X-Men First Class Trilogy, Katniss in The Hunger Games Series, and Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook; all seven of these films made over $100 million dollars. This begs the question of why Sony is willing to pay other actors $20 million, but not Jennifer Lawrence. Given the box office and critical success that she has enjoyed, the only plausible reason is that she is a woman asking for $20 million to act in one film.
Do you think Sony should pay Jennifer Lawrence $20 million to star in Passengers?
* Box office information is available on Box Office Mojo.
* Oscar information is available on IMDb.