Sylvester Stallone, circa 1987; Eddie Murphy, circa 1987

For, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: As reported last October in the trade paper The Hollywood Reporter, A-list movie stars routinely command $15 million to $20 million salaries for major movies, and top stars like Tom Cruise and Mark Wahlberg, and directors like Steven Spielberg, often get an additional percentage of the profits, which further inflates their paychecks. I can remember when Burt Reynolds made headlines back in the late 1970s and early ’80s for negotiating $5 million per film, and the shock wave that went through the industry when Jim Carrey signed up in 1996 for the first $20 million payday. Here’s a look back at movie-star salaries 30 years ago in a ‘Hicks on Flicks’ column, published in the Deseret News on Sept. 13, 1987, under the headline: ‘The Money’s rolling in for some entertainers.’ Note that Spielberg and Cruise were big players even then.

Were you as amazed as I was when Forbes magazine’s list of the 40 highest paid entertainers was released last week?

Not so much because of which movie folk made the list — who wouldn’t expect Sylvester Stallone, Eddie Murphy and Steven Spielberg to be in the top 10 — or even how many more rockers than movie stars were there. But because some of them haven’t been making movies that long.

Now this is just total earned income — as estimated by Forbes — during 1986 and ’87.

Of course, all we know about the incredible salaries earned by people like Stallone, Murphy and Spielberg. Stallone gets $12 million to $15 million a picture.

Murphy just signed a new contract with Paramount Pictures that guarantees him multiple millions, and “Beverly Hills Cop II” is 1987’s biggest hit.


                      Steven Spielberg, circa 1987

And Spielberg has his fingers in so many pies that he probably earns millions from the flops he produces.

Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise were Nos. 29 and 30, respectively, with $16 million each.

They doubtless receive percentages of their movies’ profits as well as off-the-top salaries. (Nicholson certainly commands more than Cruise, but Cruise had last year’s biggest hit — “Top Gun.”)

And there are those who produce their own pictures, such as Paul Hogan, whose “ ‘Crocodile’ Dundee” made many multiple millions last year and is now doing the same on video.

Hogan is 23 on Forbes’ list, with $20 million, and Steve Martin, who did more than merely star in “Roxanne,” is No. 33, with $15 million.

But how about Arnold Schwarzenegger? He’s at No. 15, with $26 million. (Something tells me he’s been investing his money wisely.)


       Jack Nicholson, circa 1987; Tom Cruise, circa 1987

And Barbra Streisand. She hasn’t had a film in four years, but of course she has had records and an HBO concert. On the other hand, the concert was a benefit! Did “The Broadway Album” really net her enough to make No. 39 on the list? I guess so.

Just so you’ll know, the top 10 were:

Bill Cosby ($84 million)

Sylvester Stallone ($74 million)

Bruce Springsteen ($56 million)

Charles Schultz ($55 million)

Eddie Murphy ($50 million)

Steven Spielberg ($50 million)

Madonna ($47 million)

Whitney Houston ($44 million)

Michael Jackson ($43 million)

Johnny Carson ($40 million)