Adam Sandler Tops Forbes’ List of Overpaid Actors, Knocking Off Eddie Murphy

Forbes has just released their list of 2013’s most overpaid actors, and it’s strong in Schadenfreude, containing Adam Sandler, Katherine Heigl, AND Kevin James. If only Gwyneth Paltrow had made the list, I’d be so happy I’d buy a crystal berry colander from (only $600!).

To compile our list we looked at the last three movies each actor starred in over the three years to June 1. Actors don’t make as many films as they used to so that first criteria eliminated a lot of folks right away. Drew Barrymore, who has appeared on our overpaid list in past years, was disqualified this year because she didn’t have enough films in our time frame.

Looking at pay, movie budgets and expenses, we calculated a return on investment number for each star and then averaged those numbers to get an overall return.

Here’s the top 10:

  1. Adam Sandler, $3.40 per dollar spent
  2. Katherine Heigl, $3.50
  3. Reese Witherspoon, $3.90
  4. Nicolas Cage, $6.00
  5. Kevin James, $6.10
  6. Denzel Washington, $8.30
  7. Steve Carell, $10
  8. Jennifer Aniston, $10.60
  9. Matt Damon, $10.60
  10. Ryan Reynolds, $10.70

For comparison, last year’s title holder, Eddie Murphy, was earning $2.30 for every dollar spent. I can only assume he didn’t make this year’s list because he didn’t make enough movies. Still, his record should stand for some time. Eddie Murphy is like the Roger Maris of overpaid actors.

It’s a little surprising to see Sandler and Kevin James on the list, considering the common perception is that they crap out terrible movies, and the terribler they are, the more the market rewards them, like a hungry toilet. Perhaps the market is getting savvier? Eh, let’s not celebrate while Seltzer and Friedberg still have homes. Forbes explains:

Kevin James make our list for the first time in fifth place. The actor actually ranked on our Best Actors for the Buck list last year with an average return of $22.40 for every dollar he was paid. This year his return falls to $6.10 because of Here Comes the Boom. The film, about a teacher who tries to become a mixed martial arts fighter to raise money for his school, grossed only $73 million at the box office worldwide.

Adam Sandler is one of the few actors in Hollywood who can still demand a paycheck north of $15 million. The two biggest offenders on Sandler’s resume: Jack & Jill, in which he played both halves of a brother-sister twin set, and That’s My Boy, in which Sandler (47) played the father of Andy Samberg (35). Jack & Jill grossed $150 million but the film cost an estimated $80 million to make. Considering studios take home about half of box office receipts, that means only about $70 million flowed to Sony , which also had to pay to advertise the stinker. That kind of return didn’t justify Sandler’s large upfront pay.

That’s My Boy did even worse. With an estimated budget of $70 million, the film brought in only $57 million at the box office worldwide. In other words, it was a major bomb. We estimate that for every dollar Sandler was paid on his last three movies, the films returned an average of $3.40.

You know what this means, don’t you? It means that when Adam Sandler drives by in his gold Hummer towing a Maserati filled with McDonald’s cheeseburgers because he was Kevin James’s secret Santa, we’ll be able to sneer, and shout “Yeah, but you didn’t earn it!” while we slap fingerless-glove covered hands while basking in the heat from a used tire fire. Haha, you suck, Sandler! Don’t you have any pride? (*dusts off broken top hat, rides off on one-wheeled Razor scooter, spraying sparks*)