Mark Wahlberg, one of the highest-paid actors in the world, was under fire this past week. He shrewdly negotiated an additional $1.8 million for his role in All the Money in the World, after parts of his performance had to be re-shot due to a scandal. It was originally the understanding of everyone else involved that he was going to return to work and do the shoot for free. That just isn’t how Mark Wahlberg works, apparently. He took home a payday while his co-star Michelle Williams took home $1,000. Wahlberg forced Sony’s hand because he would not approve Christopher Plummer from the reshoot unless he got paid. Since then, a public outcry has forced Wahlberg to donate his additional salary to the Time’s Up movement and presumably, that should make everyone happy. What goes unnoticed is just why the hell is Mark Wahlberg making all this money in the first place?
According to Forbes, Mark Wahlberg was the highest-paid actor of 2017. Forbes estimated that the actor brought home $68 million pretax dollars for their determined fiscal year. That puts him above heavyweights such as Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Adam Sandler, and Jackie Chan. Think about that for a second. Mark Wahlberg made more money than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. You know the man that makes every Hollywood movie watchable. Even the other actors included here have a more significant draw than Wahlberg. Sandler is in a ton of garbage films, but he has signed his future away to Netflix who made him a very rich man. Chan still plays humongous in China. Then you have Diesel who is in one of the most successful film franchises on the planet. What makes Mark Wahlberg that much more desirable among studios?
Since 2014, Wahlberg has been in three movies that have been certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes: Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day, and All the Money in the World. So critically, he does about as well as say Adam Sandler, so that isn’t why he is making bank. Apparently, it all started with Transformers: Age of Extinction. That movie gave Wahlberg a guaranteed payday of $17 million dollars and from then on he could negotiate salary in that ballpark for other features. When it came time for Transformers: The Last Knight, Wahlberg could ask for a similar salary even as the franchise took over $100 million less in America than the previous entry. It was a disaster for everyone involved except Wahlberg.
Even his movies that did well critically did not do well financially. Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day both under-performed and failed to make back their budget on both occasions. These two films are particularly noteworthy since both of them were a collaboration between Wahlberg and director Peter Berg. They will be working together again in the upcoming film Mile 22 where Wahlberg will play a CIA field officer.
The problem with trying to justify a payday for Wahlberg is that he gets involved with these projects that on paper look terrible, but then succeed widely at the box office. Case in point, the two Daddy’s Home movies. While the production budget for Daddy’s Home 2 was likely more than the original and thus a significantly less return, both movies did far better than could’ve been imagined. How much of that is Wahlberg and how much of that is Ferrell? Hard to tell since it has been a long time since Ferrell has opened a movie by himself, he is usually partnered with someone else.
You would imagine that you would have to be a talented actor to be making the most money right? That isn’t necessarily true. Out of the five men mentioned by Forbes as the money makers in 2017, few of them really put on great performances. On paper, you would imagine actors with the pedigree like Leonardo DiCaprio or Daniel Day-Lewis being the actors who would take home the most money. Mark Wahlberg has not been nominated for an award of note since 2011 when he appeared in David O. Russell’s The Fighter. Outside of that, you might mention his small role in The Departed but that was nearly twelve years ago. He hasn’t been great for a long time.
Mark Wahlberg isn’t worth the money he is being paid. Outside of outliers like Daddy’s Home and Ted, the actor doesn’t usually bring audiences in droves to his pictures. The reason people went to Transformers was that it was Transformers. Almost any actor would do the trick. Shia LaBeouf isn’t opening any movies with his star power, but where he appeared in franchise films, he certainly did well for himself.
At the end of the day, Wahlberg, along with his agency, has made a lot of really good deals. His involvement did not make All the Money in the World soar to any great heights and given all the money Sony spent on the reshoots that film has to have been a huge bust. In fact, Wahlberg is terrible in the picture. What made everything so much worse was obviously Wahlberg wasn’t hurting for the money and his stingy attitude was an incredibly bad look. Expect Daddy’s Home 3 to be announced soon.