While her "Iron Man 2" and "Avengers" character Black Widow may not technically have any superhuman abilities, actress Scarlett Johansson could be about to take home a superpowered payday for "The Avengers 2."
According to the Sun, Johansson will reportedly be paid $20 million to reprise the role of Agent Natasha Romanoff in the sequel to May's superhero ensemble, a record fee for an actress. The haul would top Angelina Jolie's $19 million payday for 2010's "The Tourist" and officially make Johansson the highest-paid actress in Hollywood.
It's definitely a step up from ScarJo's previous Marvel movie fees. When compared to the massive box-office take of "Iron Man 2" ($623 million), the actress' $400,000 paycheque seems paltry. Johansson's take for "The Avengers" was slightly better, with many reports estimating she was paid anywhere between $4 and $6 million. A $20 million paycheque for "The Avengers 2" would be quite the jump, but given how successful the original film was at the box office — an estimated $1.45 billion and counting — the raise would be entirely justified.
Sadly, the record-setting payday for Johansson will likely still pale in comparison to what Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) will make for "The Avengers 2." Thanks to the success of the two "Iron Man" movies, Downey was able to get a piece of "The Avengers'" back-end. It's estimated that Downey made $50 million-plus due to the "percentage of gross" clause in his contract. If "The Avengers 2" does better than the first one (which is currently the third-highest-grossing movie of all time), Downey's take for the sequel would likely be even larger.
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Still, Johansson fared better than most of her male co-stars in "The Avengers." Chris Evans (Captain America), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) reportedly earned between $2 and $3 million, while Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) pulled in about the same as ScarJo. It's reasonable to assume that all these actors will get a raise for the sequel, but Johansson's alleged payday sets a pretty high bar. If all the actors received comparable increases in their pay, the talent budget alone for "The Avengers 2" would likely be in excess of $100 million before a single frame was filmed. Add in the behind-the-scenes costs — like paying writers, producers, and the director — and the superhero sequel becomes an extremely expensive proposition. Still, what's a few hundred million dollars when you stand to make billions? Talk about a return on investment.
All this big money talk should be taken with a grain of salt, however. When reached for comment, ScarJo's people told E! Online that this was the first they'd heard of the record-setting fee. The source of the original report, the Sun, is little more than a tabloid paper, so ScarJo's reported payday could easily turn out to be an exaggeration.