Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

This Is How Much Joaquin Phoenix Made From Joker

Crime pays... at least, it does if you happen to be the Clown Prince.

A recent breakdown by Variety revealed what the stars of the year's biggest movies were paid for their roles. While Joaquin Phoenix's salary for Joker wasn't quite in line with your average lead in a comic book film, it was nothing to laugh at, either.

Existing apart from the established continuity of the DC Movie Universe, Joker shocked the world by virtue of generating major awards buzz, making roughly all of the money, and being an excellent, complex film which is open to wildly varying interpretations by design. As comic book movies go, the flick was made on a modest budget; it cost $62.5 million dollars to produce, and studio Warner Brothers went with an understated advertising campaign, particularly as contrasted with your average Marvel Studios blockbuster.

As a result, Joker became one of the most ridiculously profitable movies of all time, surpassing $1 billion dollars at the worldwide box office and making Warners' brass look like a bunch of geniuses for greenlighting the film. One of the ways in which the flick's budget was kept in check, though, was by paying Phoenix a comparative fraction of what he might have made if he'd opted for a more typical entry into the comic book genre.

For his role as failed comedian turned agent of malevolence in October's smash hit film, Phoenix earned $4.5 million dollars — certainly not a pittance, but not exactly Robert Downey, Jr. money, either. Speaking of Iron Man, there exists the distinct possibility that both he and Phoenix will be up for statues come awards time; it sure would be interesting to see how Academy voters think Downey's role in the biggest movie (and franchise) of all time stacks up against Phoenix's performance in writer/director Todd Phillips' humble little comic book movie.

How does Joaquin Phoenix's Joker salary measure up?

Believe it or not, when it comes to 2019 franchise films, Phoenix's salary for Joker is not only on the low end, it's darn near the lowest. Only Jessica Chastain, who anchored September's It: Chapter Two as the adult Beverly Marsh, was paid less; she took home $2.5 million dollars for appearing in the Stephen King sequel, and it's fair to say that this was to be expected considering that movie's huge ensemble cast.

As for the high end, Variety notes that Downey will rake in a whopping $20 million dollars for the forthcoming The Voyage of Doctor Doolittle, the same amount that he received up front for his role in Avengers: Endgame. Note the qualifier "up front"; when the dust settled on that film's record-shattering box office run, Downey's back end pay had put his totals Endgame earnings at an eye-watering $75 million dollars. By way of comparison, Downey's co-star Chris Evans only scored a $15 million dollar payday for his final appearance as Captain America. (via IndieWire)

Dwayne Johnson is also in the $20 million dollar club, having earned that amount for his appearance in this summer's Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. His co-star Jason Statham was paid $13 million dollars, while Idris Elba — who portrayed the flick's villain Brixton — took home $8 million dollars.

Also noteworthy is the fact that in 2020, the female stars of the the most highly-anticipated comic book and franchise fare will be earning paychecks much more in line with those of their male counterparts than in years past. For example, after clocking a mere $300,000 dollars to star in 2017's Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot will earn $10 million dollars to reprise her role in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984, an amount much closer to what is typically paid out to male stars of solo superhero films.

Meanwhile, Margot Robbie is reportedly earning between $9 and $10 million dollars for returning to the role of Harley Quinn in February's Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), and Emily Blunt will pull down between $12 and $13 million dollars to star in the sequel to the hit 2018 horror flick A Quiet Place. Those whopping salaries are creeping ever closer to those being paid out to established A-listers like Tom Cruise and Will Smith; the former will take home between $12 and $14 million for appearing in the Top Gun sequel Maverick, while the latter will notch a $17 million dollar paycheck for starring in Bad Boys for Life.

Compared to those staggering totals, one could make the argument that Phoenix was egregiously underpaid for starring in Joker — until one remembers that Warner Bros. viewed the film as a total gamble before it set the world on fire (as the Joker is wont to do). Somehow, we doubt Phoenix is upset; he's stated on more than one occasion that he didn't make Joker for the money anyway, and it also seems pretty likely that he'll have the last laugh come awards season.