Well-known Hollywood figures Eddie Murphy, Katherine Heigl and Reese Witherspoon have suffered the indignity of being named top of Forbes magazine's annual list of the most overpaid actors in the world.
Murphy, who was commanding $20m a movie around the turn of the millennium, returns just $2.30 for every $1 he is paid, according to Forbes. Such meagre financial clout means he is considered the most overpaid actor in Hollywood in 2012, with the news coming on the back of flops such as Meet Dave and Imagine That. Even his 2011 critical hit Tower Heist, which was seen as something of a comeback vehicle for the Beverly Hills Cop star, was not a resounding box-office smash, earning $152m on a $75m production budget.
Second place on the list goes to newcomer Heigl, who is said to return $3.40 for every $1 she receives from Hollywood bean counters. After turning heads in comedy hits such as 2007's Knocked Up, the actor has appeared in a slew of box-office romcom bombs such as One for the Money, which took just $37m.
Reese Witherspoon, surprisingly, makes third place on the list, returning $3.90 for every $1 she is paid. The Oscar-winner appeared in box-office turkey How Do You Know in 2010 ($50m on a whopping $120m budget), period romance Water for Elephants in 2011 ($117m on a $38m budget) and romantic comedy spy film This Means War this year (a rather better $156m on a $65m budget).
Another Oscar-winner, Sandra Bullock, finds herself in fourth place on the list, returning $5 for every $1 she is paid. Her 2009 comedy All About Steve, which took just $40m worldwide, tended to drag her down. Jack Black ($5.20 for every $1 paid) features in fifth thanks largely to 2011's The Big Year, which hauled in just $7m.
Elsewhere on the top 10, the familiar names come thick and fast. Nicolas Cage is in sixth spot, returning $6 for every $1 he is paid, followed by Adam Sandler and Denzel Washington in joint seventh ($6.30 for every $1). Ben Stiller ($6.50 for every $1) and Sarah Jessica Parker ($7 per $1 paid) round out the top 10.
Murphy et al can take solace in the fact that they do at least return more money for investors than they receive in income, according to Forbes, which looked at actors' three most recent films in as many years for its study. The "winner" of the 2011 rundown, Drew Barrymore, famously returned just 40 cents for every $1 she was paid. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the latter does not qualify for this year's list because Forbes says she has not appeared in starring roles in three wide-released films in the past three years.
Another missing figure from this year's report is Will Ferrell, who was named the most overpaid actor for two years running in 2009 and 2010.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © David Shankbone
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