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How Much Money Did Will Smith Actually Make From I Am Legend?

Once upon a time, we heard about the salaries that movie and television stars received per film, or per episode. Today, the idea of a successful actor making just their upfront salary seems terribly old-fashioned, and the current terms we're used to hearing are "profit participation," "streaming back-end buyout," and "merchandise deals," and actors making much more than what their initial salary was. One of the earliest examples of these kinds of deals is Jack Nicholson for 1989's "Batman." Nicholson's fee was usually $10 million a film, but he cut it to $6 million to star in "Batman," along with a very lucrative back-end deal that — when adjusted for inflation — means that Nicholson has received up to $200 million for his role as the Joker since "Batman" debuted (via Far Out Magazine).

As actors and their agents have come to realize how much more can be made from these kinds of deals, they've become the norm rather than the anomaly. Some actors, such as Will Smith, have shrewdly negotiated these deals to make an astonishing fortune off many of their films.

Will Smith made $25 million from I Am Legend

Will Smith's star rose fast after starring in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," and then jumping headfirst into the critically acclaimed "Six Degrees of Separation," and then "Bad Boys," before starring in the blockbuster "Independence Day." He was one of the top earners in terms of up-front salary, but he quickly learned how to triple and even quadruple his earnings. While he earned $2 million for the first "Bad Boys" film, he made nearly $75 million for the sequel eight years later (via Complex). By the time he filmed "The Pursuit of Happyness" in 2006, he and his agent had proven to be very good at negotiating the most lucrative back-end deals for Smith they could, with the actor pulling in more than $70 million.

Smith made $25 million for 2006's "I Am Legend," and the film made $77 million on opening weekend, setting a record for the biggest December non-Christmas release in history. Despite the film's success, he told Oprah Winfrey that the number disappointed him, and he wondered if it could've reached $80 million had the ending been changed (via Entertainment Weekly). 

"I Am Legend" holds a 68% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Until Smith's recent troubles at the Oscars, an "I Am Legend" sequel was reportedly being planned, with Smith starring alongside Michael B. Jordan. It remains to be seen if the sequel will get delayed — or made at all — but one thing we can be sure of is that Smith will negotiate a great payout for the project if it comes to fruition.