How Much Money Do Actors Get for an Oscar?

How much money do actors get if they win an Oscar? $0. But the salary boost after winning an Oscar can be up to $120 million over the course of an actor’s lifetime. There’s a big question, though, whether the Oscar win money is real or just a side effect of an already growing career.

Stars get rewards other than money for winning an Oscar. In 2016, each Academy Award nominee will get a gift bag full of goodies that total up to a reported $232 million. Actors can’t sell their Oscars, though, even if they do fall on hard times. The Academy technically owns every Oscar it gives out. Stars face legal action since a 1950 rule put a stop to the sale of Oscars by winners.

How much money does a movie get for an Oscar? According to data from the New York Times, up to 38% more in box office dollars. That can translate to $35 million in ticket sales.

How Much Money Do Actors Get for an Oscar

How Much Money Do Actors Get for an Oscar?

How Much Money Do Actors Get for an Oscar Win?
Ways Actors Get Money for an Oscar Win
Actual money for winning an Oscar$0
Average salary boost money actors get when they win an Oscar60% or $10 to $120 million
How much money stars can sell an Oscar for after a win$0
How much money does a star get in an Oscar gift bag? (average)$126,000
How much money does a star get in an Oscar gift bag? (2016)$232,000
How much money does a movie get for an Oscar$1 million to $35 million
Dollar value of the Oscar statuette$400

Actor Oscar Win Money RevenantAs the table above shows, there are a few ways actors get money when they win an Oscar. The award itself gets them $0. The Academy doesn’t pay out money for an Oscar win. However, there’s a potential money boost averaging 60% more pay when an actor wins an Oscar. Stars also get a gift bag or swag bag worth $232,000 in 2016 when they’re nominated for an Oscar win.

Before 1950, if an actor or other star fell on hard times, they could sell their Oscar for real money. Sales of Oscars in the past have netted up to $300,000. However, a 1950 legal arrangement made it illegal to sell an Oscar for money after a win.

Stars and actors aren’t the only entities to get money for an Oscar win. Movies tend to make more box office dollars when they win an Oscar. A movie can earn as much as 38% more money after it wins an Oscar for Best Picture. A movie that wins an Oscar for Best Actor, meanwhile, can only expect about another 1%.

Also see: Leonardo DiCaprio Net Worth

The Oscar Boost: How Much Money Actors Get for an Oscar

Stars Oscar Win Money Salary BoostDo actors get more money if they win an Oscar in terms of salary? The answer seems to be, “yes.” Take a look at the table below for proof. The table shows a shallow study of six Oscar winners from 1985 through 2010. In every case, estimated earnings per role increased by at least 20%. In some cases, the post-Oscar earnings boost was as high as 98%. That can translate to anywhere from $20 million to $120 million over the course of a career. There’s some evidence that just getting nominated for an Oscar can also mean more salary money for an actor.

How Much Money Do Actors Get for an Oscar
Oscar Winning ActorMoney Before Oscar Win (est. avg. per role)Money After Oscar Win (est. avg. per role)% More Money After Oscar Win
Halle Berry, Oscar win year 2002$118,750$6,500,00098%
Tom Hanks, Oscar win year 1994$700,000$10,000,00093%
Jeff Bridges, Oscar win year 2010$5,000,000$9,000,00044%
Sandra Bullock, Oscar win year 2010$2,000,000$3,000,00033%
Kate Winslet, Oscar win year 2009$2,000,000$2,500,00020%
F. Murray Abraham, Oscar win year 1985$30,000$100,00070%
Average % More Money for Stars After Oscar Win60%

Also see: Matt Damon Net Worth

Actor money oscar win martianTo add a grain of salt to the data, there are some reasons the fabled Oscar boost may be at least partially statistical noise. Would Tom Hanks have made as much money without his 1994 Oscar win? His earnings would have almost certainly increased on their own. That’s thanks to Hanks’ notoriously strong work ethic and his storied acting chops. To say that all of the 93% boost in money earned after his Oscar win was thanks to the Academy Award alone would be fallacious. However, there’s no doubt at least some of the extra money can be laid at the golden feet of his hard won statuette.

There’s also some truth to the idea that actors who have been around longer might get less money when they win an Oscar. Jeff Bridges was already commanding a high payout per film role by the time he won the Oscar in 2010 for Crazy Heart. Tom Hanks by contrast won the Oscar when his acting career was still relatively new.

Also see: Brie Larson Net Worth

F. Murray Abraham Syndrome: Actors Still Get Money for an Oscar Win

Money Actor oscar win abrahamThere’s some speculation that actors don’t get money when they win an Oscar. The zero salary boost theory comes largely from something called the F. Murray Abraham Syndrome.

It’s never good when you have a syndrome named after you. The one named after F. Murray Abraham started with his 1985 best actor Oscar win for Amadeus. Before Abraham won the Oscar, he was a relative unknown. After he won the Oscar, he was still a relative unknown. In fact the Oscar win didn’t catapult the actor into megastardom. Far from it. After he won the Oscar, Abraham has appeared in such non-blockbusters as Loaded Weapon 1, Muppets from Space and the TV movie Sharkswarm.

But did Abraham get more money after he won the Oscar? Definitely. A look at the table below shows his estimated earnings per year went from $65,000 to $300,000. Is he Tom Hanks? No. Would you want his career? Most would say yes.

F. Murray Abraham Oscar Win Money
Average money per year before Oscar win (est)$65,000
Average money per year after Oscar win (est)$300,000
Roles since Oscar win94

Also see: How Much Money Has Every Marvel Movie Made?

When Actors Fall on Hard Times: How Much Money Actors Get to Sell an Oscar

Stars oscar sell money winCan actors get money after an Oscar win by selling their awards? Not since 1950. In that year, the Academy entered into a new legal agreement that prevents the sale of Oscars for money.

Before 1950, actors and other stars did indeed sell their Oscars after a win. The table below shows a few such sales. The most notable is these is the best screenplay Oscar for the 1941 film Citizen Kane. The award sold for $332,165. Other Oscars that have sold include Ronald Coleman’s best actor award in 1947 and Charles Coburn’s best actor Oscar in 1943.

How Much Money Does a Star Get to Sell an Oscar
Star that Won OscarOscar WinMoney from Sale
Herman Mankiewicz, Oscar win year 1941"Citizen Kane" won Oscar for best screenplay$332,165
Gregg Toland, Oscar win year 1939"Wuthering Heights" won Oscar for best cinematographer$226,876
Ronald Coleman, Oscar win year 1947"A Double Life" won Oscar for best actor$206,250
Hugo Friedhofer, Oscar win year 1946"The Best Years of Our Lives" won Oscar for best music 1946$187,511
Charles Coburn, Oscar win year 1943"The More the Merrier" won Oscar for best supporting actor$170,459

Also see: How Much Money Has Every Star Wars Movie Made?

How Much Money is an Oscar Gift Bag Worth?

oscar win money gift bagActors also get money for an Oscar in the form of the Oscar gift bags or “swag bags.” In 2016 the gift bags are stuffed with goodies valued at $232,000. The money value of an Oscar gift bag has gone as low as $45,000 since 2011. The gift bags don’t just go to stars that win an Oscar, but to all nominees.

In 2016, the gift bag includes a full year’s worth of Silvercar rentals, toilet paper from Joseph’s toiletries, flat irons and blow dryers, reusable water bottles, a Phantom Glass screen protector and other expensive treats. Oh and one tube of Chapstick. Most probably, the gift bags are a product placement opportunity for the companies that contribute the gifts. Those companies almost certainly pay big money to have their products included in the gift bags.

How Much Money Do Stars Get in an Oscar Gift Bag?
Oscar Win YearOscar Gift Bag Money Value
Oscar Win 2011 Gift Bag$75,000
Oscar Win 2012 Gift Bag$160,000
Oscar Win 2013 Gift Bag$45,000
Oscar Win 2014 Gift Bag$80,000
Oscar Win 2015 Gift Bag$168,000
Oscar Win 2016 Gift Bag$232,000
Average Oscar Win Gift Bag Money Value$126,667

Also see: Mexico Pays Millions to Change Bond Movie “Spectre”

How Much Money Do Movies Get for an Oscar?

How Much Money Does a Movie Get for an Oscar
SituationBox Office Boost from Oscar
How much money a movie makes for a best picture oscar38% more
How much money a movie makes for a best director oscar15% more
How much money a movie makes for a best actress oscar2% more
How much money a movie makes for a best actor oscar2% more

Movie get money oscarActors aren’t the only ones that get money when they win an Oscar. Studios get a payday from a win as well. According to the New York Times, a film can see a 38% boost to box office numbers from a Best Picture Oscar win. That includes 22% more money for the nomination and another 16% for the win. Other sources place the value of a best director Oscar win at an additional 15%. Best actress or best actor gets just 2% more in box office money.

The money movies get for an Oscar win goes beyond just box office numbers though. Movies that win an Oscar can also see a boost to DVD sales and rentals and online streaming rentals. In fact, the extra money from an Oscar win is so dramatic it has changed Academy policy. In 2010, the Academy doubled the number of Oscar nominated films. Most industry insiders admit this was a play to help the film industry’s sagging numbers.

Also see: How to Get the Best Movie Streaming Price Every Time

How Much Money Do Studios Spend on Oscars?

To reap the benefits of extra money for an Oscar win, movie studios often have to ante up. The cost of promotional campaigns by film studios in pursuit of Oscars is rumored at between $5 million and $15 million. Studios spend money on ads in trade magazines that might be read by Oscar voters. They also hire publicists and conduct aggressive social marketing campaigns. Maybe the biggest Oscar cost in 2016 though comes from the DVDs the studios ship out to screeners. The DVDs and postage cost something of course. But the real cost is piracy. In 2016, every single Oscar nominated film became available online as a pirated copy. One or more of the Academy’s voting population pirated those films. That translates directly to at least $10 million in box office losses per Oscar nominated movie.

Also see: Jennifer Lawrence Net Worth

Money or No, Some Stars Won’t Go

Whether an actor will get money for an Oscar win or not, many of them are avoiding this year’s Oscars ceremony like the plague. Hollywood has been accused of being too white, too male and too straight. Indeed the ten best actor and best actress nominees this year are exclusively white.

Will Smith and others have vowed to boycott the Oscars this year. The infographic below from MicNews shows the stats behind the race issue.

In the video below, comic Paul Mooney gives his take on the OscarsSoWhite movement.

To end on an “up” note, the Academy posted the tweet below on 2/27/16. It shows a giant Oscar statue being touched up with gold paint in advance of the ceremony. We don’t have figures on how much that Oscar cost. It’s probably not worth its weight in gold.


The New York Times

Stars that Sold Oscars for Money