No matter how much we hear that Hollywood is making inroads in the great wage disparity debate, the annual Forbes list of the highest paid actors proves that it’s just an illusion. The ten top-earning actors in the world are all men. In other words: Vin Diesel makes more money than Jennifer Lawrence.
Sure there has been tiny crumbs of progress made both behind and in front of the camera. Patty Jenkins is reportedly earning as much as her male counterparts for Wonder Woman 2, and the aforementioned Lawrence was paid $20 million for her role in Passengers while co-star Chris Pratt made just $12 million
But dig a little deeper and it’s glaringly clear that Hollywood still has miles to go before truly achieving equal pay among men and women. For instance, the top 14 highest paid actors all make more than Emma Stone, Hollywood’s highest paid actress during the period surveyed. In fact, Stone’s annual income of $26 million is just more than half of what Adam Sandler—who clocks in at fourth on the list—made this year.
Stone is fresh of an Oscar win for her remarkable performance in La La Land, while Sandler made something called Sandy Wexler. Tom Cruise—who raked in $43 million this year—was at least partly responsible for the abomination that was The Mummy but made nearly $20 million more than Lawrence.
In a statement about the disparity in pay, Forbes blamed the dearth of roles available for women in films that make a lot of money at the box office.
“In release schedules dominated by superhero movies and brawny blockbusters, there are simply fewer parts for women that pay the sizeable backend profits that result in leading men’s large paydays, or the franchise sequels that permit aggressive negotiation for favorable deals.”
That simply isn’t true. The top two highest grossing films of the year—Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman—both feature female leads. Meanwhile, Emma Watson made only $14 million this year and Gal Gadot didn’t even make the list. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation between an actor’s gender and a movie’s box office potency. What’s really at play here is a stubborn Hollywood patriarchy that is unwilling to adapt. And until it does, Mark Wahlberg will keep making Transformers movies.