"People in this business are always looking at other people and comparing," says a top Hollywood attorney. "I always have clients calling me and saying, 'Am I being paid enough? Should I be paid more?' "
Luckily for all, there's lots of comparing to do inTHR'ssecond annual What Hollywood Earns report. To research the salaries of everyone from key grips to movie stars, the magazine consulted with executives, producers, payroll service companies, the industry guilds and others who have inside information about how and where the money is flowing in 2015 (including a horse farm in upstate New York that "FedExes" its animal actors to Hollywood shooting locations). This year, thanks to North Koreancybercriminals, there were other sources as well — the thousands of emails and employment contracts that spilled Hollywood salary secrets all over the Internet during last November's Sony hack.
The takeaway? TV producing fees are up (to as much as $75,000 an episode),MerylStreepgets rich even from flops ($5 million forRickiand the Flash?), and extras love it when it rains.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Studio Tour Guide
Yukkingit up with tourists around the lot pays $26 an hour, but only after a training period during which compensation is $20 an hour.
Newcomers can expect to earn just $15,000 to $20,000 per episode on a network or cable series. Experienced actors take home as much as $75,000 to $100,000 an episode, and bigger stars can earn $150,000 totoplinea series in its first season. Raises (usually about 4 percent) come each subsequent season (James Spadermade $160,000 per episode for season two ofThe Blacklist;JeffGarlinmade $84,000 per episode on season two ofTheGoldbergs), but the real money comes after contractrenegotiations(usually for season 3). In breakout success, the stars of hit shows eventually can earn as much as a cool $1 million an episode (The Big Bang Theory'sJohnnyGaleckiandJim Parsons).
Established movie scribes can make $1 million a script, plus a bonus if they get final credit. Selling a spec screenplay can range from the low-six figures to $3 million (what Sony paidJames VanderbiltforWhite House Down) or more. The most lucrative work can come via rewrites or touch-ups, where bankable script doctors can make $500,000 for just a few weeks of effort.
Dispensing celery sticks andTwizzlersto the cast and crew earns these workers about $1,200 a week.
Staff writers can start atWGAscale — $37,368 for anhourlongscript, $25,408 for a half-hour — or earn $7,000 to $15,000 an episode in weekly fees. Seasoned scribes also get episodic producing fees of $20,000 to $30,000, even for episodes they don't write. Raises come in subsequent seasons.
They make $45 an hour and work 10 to 15 weeks per film.
Making sure the mic stays out of the shot pays about $1400 a week, or $21,000 on a typical 15-week shoot.
On-the-lot overhead deals have been squeezed, but for a studio release, seasoned producers can make $1.5 million to $2 million upfront and often much more in backend (though first-dollar-gross deals are nearly extinct.) Will Smith and JamesLassiter'sOverbrookEntertainment made $2 million for producing last year'sAnnie.
A unit publicist hired by a studio earns about $2,750 a week, or $41,000 per film. Personal publicists employed by stars earn much more, with some making $400,000 or more a year.
TV Show Creator
They make most of their money in producing fees, with raises in subsequent seasons.Vince Gilligangot $50,000 per episode ofBetter Call Saul and JonBokenkampearned $37,500 per episode for season two ofThe Blacklist.
A-list stars still can make between $5 million (MerylStreep'spay forRickiand the Flash) and $20 million (whatDenzel Washingtongot upfront forThe Equalizer) to much more with backend (Robert DowneyJr.reportedly made $50 million forThe Avengers). Supporting actors don't fare as well (Kevin Klinemade $350,000 for his part inRicki).
First assistant directors get paid about $8,000 a week and generally work 15 to 20 weeks on a major shoot, for a total of $120,000 to $160,000 per film.
They get paid about $40 an hour and typically work 12 days on anhour longTV drama, taking home $7,000 an episode.
Sidekicks, next-door neighbors and othernonstarringTV roles pay in the mid-five figures per episode.Jonathan Banksgot $65,000 per episode onBetter Call Saul's first season, and the kids on season two ofTheGoldbergsearned $20,000 to $25,000 each.
Those super-pumped comics who keep studio audiences entertained before TV tapings get paid $3,000 to $5,000 a show.
Running a studio pays a base salary of $3 million to $5 million (whatJeffRobinovreportedly got at Warner Bros.), but bonuses can bring the amount to the mid-eight figures.
Director of Photography
The director of photography makes $10,000 to $20,000 a week on a 15-week shoot. A few, likeRogerDeakins, earn much more ($30,000 or more).
Studio paychecks range from $500,000 (what newcomerJBlakesongot forThe5thWave) to $3 million (what Sony offeredDanny BoyleforSteve Jobs) to much more (Michael Bayreportedly earns $80 million from backend onTransformersmovies).
They earn about $60 an hour and work about 14 weeks per film.
Lead camera operators make $75 an hour, or about $8,000 for anhourlongdrama episode (which takes eight days to shoot; sitcoms are about five days and pay less).
Directors ofhourlongdramas make about $42,000 an episode; sitcom directors earn $35,000. But direct a pilot and you'll get paid for every future episode, even if you never set foot on set again.JoeCarnahan, who directed the pilot forThe Blacklist, got a $5,000 check for every episode of the latest season.
TV Studio Chief
Sony'sSteveMoskoearned $2.8 million (plus bonuses) as president, with execs that oversee both a studio and a network potentially making more.
Head of Distribution
Typical base pay is nearly $1 million (plus bonus). The person with this title at Sony, for instance, makes $885,000.
The top bean counters earn a lot of beans: Sony's financial chief makes $900,000 a year, not including bonuses.
He or she usually earns about $1 million a year, thoughMichael De Lucawas making more than his Sony co-worker with the same title,HannahMinghella($1.5 million vs. $900,000).
The top attorney at a studio can expect to earn in the high-six figures. Sony's top lawyer earns a base salary of $800,000 plus bonuses.
Head of Marketing
The job usually pays about $1 million a year. Sometimes more if the executive is heavily recruited.
They earn up to $1,000 a day ($500 for a "background horse") but can cost studios much more in transport fees (the farm in upstate New York that provided horses forThe PatriotandWinter's Talesays they've even "FedExed" horses to sets).
Most get paid $889 a day, or about $50,000 a film, if they work every day of a 12-week shoot (and don't break a leg). But they pay for their own insurance.
Second Unit Director
The director responsible for shooting stunts and other supplementary footage, usually on location, earns about $20,000 a week.
These unsung actors earn about $150 a day, or $200 if they're wearing a hairpiece or working in rain or smoke.
The craftsman who givesBruce WillisandNicolas Cagefull heads of hair gets paid about $1,500 a week.
They make about $3,000 a week but work many more weeks than most of the crew and cast — as many as 30 weeks per film.
Piloting a StarWagon pays between $30 and $36 an hour.
The person in charge of the fake swords and alien artifacts makes $45 an hour, usually working 20 weeks on a film (including preproduction).
Pay rates range from $3,000 a day up to $12,000 or more, depending on the size of the film and the experience of the designer.ReneeKalfusearned $6,500 a week forAnnie, whileDavid Robinsongot $4,500 a week forThe Equalizer.