An interesting fact emerges from this year’s Vanity Fair “top Hollywood earners” list: the top five places go to directors. Todd Phillips comes in at five, fresh from directing ‘The Hangover’ (subject of a recent Oscar snub), a surprise hit which must have seen Phillips claiming a proportion of the box office gross to earn his reported $44 million last year. At four, Jim Cameron (subject of Oscar buzz), comes in with some of that sweet ‘Avatar’ money. ‘Avatar’ was only released in the last couple of weeks of 2009, so Cameron’s place at four on this list shows just how much money he/that film has made in such a short space of time. I’d expect Cameron to be at the top of next year’s list with the same film. Three sees Roland Emmerich taking $70 million home for directing the disaster movie ‘2012’ (never linked to Oscars). Emmerich is probably another one seeing a healthy proportion of the box office as part of his fee.
That leaves, in second and first place, respectively, father and son duo (as pictured) Spielberg and Bay. They have (depressingly) been raking it in from the recent ‘Transformers’ movies. Say what you will about ‘Avatar’, but it is a coherent film at least – and with its heart in the right place. Michael Bay reportedly made $125 million last year so it's no wonder he doesn’t care what people say about his films. The full break down of this figure is available in the original Vanity Fair article, but interesting highlights include: $75 million from directing/producing the film, $25 million from sales of the DVD (yes, if you bought it, you’re lining his pockets, happy?) and $12.5 million from toys and video games etc.
I really, really wanted to come at this list from the perspective that, regardless of who they were and what they had made, directors had claimed the top five places in this poll, where usually actors dominate (as indeed they dominate the remaining thirty-five places). The thing is that there isn’t really a single person on the list who is there because they directed a film: rather all the directors on the list are also producers. Or they made $50 million from theme parks last year (Steven Spielberg).
Anyway, check out the entire top 40, and all the details therein, here.