Chinese movie star salaries have been skyrocketing lately as their country’s annual box office has exploded from barely $200 million a decade ago to a projected $6.8 billion this year. Many actors have seen their fees double from one picture to the next, and a few, like martial arts star Jacky Wu, have even enjoyed ten-fold increases for their latest films.
Because the supply of new, bankable stars hasn’t kept pace with demand, actors and actresses who can successfully open a picture have leveraged their box office value into steady increases in their per-picture fees. Only a few years ago it was the rare film that cost more than $3 or $4 million in total to produce; now some stars are paid more than that for their acting fees alone.
A recent China Daily report revealed the salaries of a handful of China’s biggest stars, ten of whom I’ve noted in the following pages (note: all of the figures below are quoted from China Daily and have not been independently verified).
Stephen Chow (周星驰）
Prior Fee: 30 mm / $4.84 mm
Current Fee: 50 mm / $8.06 mm
Tony Leung (梁家辉)
Prior Fee: RMB 30 mm / $4.84 mm for The Taking of Tiger Mountain
Current Fee: RMB 45 mm / $7.26 mm for The Ferryman
Chow Yun-fat (周润发）
Prior Fee: 24 mm / $3.87 mm
Current Fee: 36 mm / $5.81 mm for The Man From Macau II
Huang Bo (黄渤)
Prior Fee: 15 mm /$2.42 mm
Current Fee: 30 mm / $4.84 mm
Wu Xiubo (吴秀波）
Prior Fee: RMB 4 mm/ $645k for Finding Mr. Right
Current Fee: RMB 25 mm / $4.03 mm for The Ferryman
Nicholas Tse (谢霆锋）
Prior Fee: 15 mm / $2.42 mm
Current Fee: 18 mm / $2.90 mm
Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明)
Prior Fee: RMB 8 mm / $1.29 mm for The Crossing
Current Fee: RMB 15 mm / $2.42 mm for Hollywood Adventures
Jacky Wu (吴京)
Prior Fee: RMB 1 mm / $161k for The Breakup Guru
Current Fee: RMB 10 mm / $1.61 mm for SPL II
Prior Fee: RMB 4 mm / $645k for Young Detective Dee
Current Fee: RMB 8 mm / $1.29 mm for Bride Wars
Li Bingbing (李冰冰)
Prior Fee: RMB 4 mm / $645k for Transformers: Age of Extinction
Current Fee: RMB 8 mm /$1.29 mm for Zhong Kui and the Snow Girl
Although Chinese star salaries are still nowhere near the $20+ million salaries that some of their A-list Hollywood counterparts can earn, China’s fees are only going up while Hollywood quotes have stagnated, so it’s possible that the Chinese will catch up by the end of the decade.