Forbes is an infuriating website to visit, in that relentlessly SEO-ed, everything-has-to-be-broken-down-into-top-five-lists way that drive me crazy but which generate tens of thousands of pageviews based on little more than a button-pushing headline. Information that could easily be fit on a single page is instead spread out across 20 or more images in a photo gallery, for some reason, and a magazine that is ostensibly about business and investing somehow manages to justify running galleries of Kim Kardashian photos after she got divorced. One feels slimy just looking at their homepage.
Still, a knowledge of how to generate pageviews is a valuable thing to have on the internet, even if I'm not sure how anyone can honestly sit down and write an article on "The Top Ten Lessons Steve Jobs Can Teach Us If We'll Listen" and then follow it up with "The Top Ten Lessons Steve Jobs Taught Us" after he died without reminding yourself of Jay Leno's unfortunate end in that Bill Hicks excoriation of him. Luckily for you, there's no need to brave the woolly wilds of Forbes to glean the information from their latest piece of clickbait: the 10 Most Overpaid Actors In Hollywood.
Even speaking generously, the data from which this list is drawn is a small set. It only counts the top-40 highest-paid actors in Hollywood (which is kind of like making a list of the best five players on a single NBA team of 12 men), and they can only qualify if they've released at least three films into theaters in the last five years that have opened in over 500 theaters. Animated films are not counted, as are movies in which the star had a cameo. After balancing out estimated paydays for the stars versus the estimated profit for a film, including DVD earnings. Then you can relate how many dollars a film brings in compared to the amount of money an actor has been paid for starring in them.
Still, the results are somewhat interesting, with Drew Barrymore's string of flops landing her easily in the lead over the past half-decade; they've apparently made just 40 cents for every dollar that Barrymore has earned in salary. Everybody's Fine? Lucky You? She deserves credit for attempting to make films that might not be as commercial as Charlie's Angels 10, but the flipside of that is that the movie business is, indeed, a business, and movies do have to make money if you wish to continue making money in the future. Barrymore's probably on the hook more than most of her competitors on the list, considering how often she seems to produce the films that she stars in.
Anyway, to save you from actually having to click on the story itself, lest you never find your way back to the sunny pastures of Screened.com, here is the top ten list in its entirety. Some of the names aren't particularly surprising: Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler's films never do amazingly well overseas, with comedy being tough to export, and, well...it's Nicolas Cage.