Variety’s annual report on the biggest movie stars’ salaries reveals it cost around $55 million to combine the A-list talents of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence onscreen. The two Oscar-winning actors are leading Adam McKay’s Netflix comedy “Don’t Look Up” in what is easily the biggest star pairing of the year. While $20 million paydays are the norm for both actors, DiCaprio received a reported $30 million salary and Lawrence a reported $25 million salary for “Don’t Look Up.”
DiCaprio and Lawrence star in “Don’t Look Up” as two low-level astronomers forced to travel around the U.S. to warn the population that a giant meteor is heading straight toward the planet and will destroy it. The two Oscar winners are joined in the movie by Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Rob Morgan, Ron Perlman, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Mark Rylance, and Cate Blanchett. When the film first came together, THR reported the package included a $75 million budget.
DiCaprio’s reported $30 million payday is up from the salary he earned for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Both DiCaprio and co-star Brad Pitt took pay cuts for the movie so that Tarantino’s budget could stay reasonable and thus increase Sony’s chance of making its money back. Variety reported in 2019 that DiCaprio and Pitt earned $10 million each for the movie.
Lawrence continues to pull in her normal $20-million-plus salary with “Don’t Look Up,” and she’s expected to do the same with an upcoming biopic on Hollywood talent agent Sue Mengers. News about the project broke earlier this month, with Deadline confirming top streaming platforms Apple and Netflix are throwing down huge offers to take the project. One streaming offer was reportedly in the $80 million range. Paolo Sorrentino is attached to direct Lawrence in the movie.
McKay wrote the “Don’t Look Up” character of astronomer Kate Dibiasky for Jennifer Lawrence, and the “Silver Linings Playbook” Oscar winner got the first read of the script. The Oscar winning writer behind “The Big Short” had long wanted to work with Lawrence.
“I’ve known Jen for awhile,” McKay said earlier this year when asked how he landed two of the biggest A-listers in Hollywood in the same film. “One of the first meetings she ever did in Los Angeles after her first movie was with me when she was like 17 years old, maybe 18 years old. She worshipped ‘Step Brothers,’ so when her agent asked who she wanted to meet…they prob weren’t happy to hear the answer: the guy who did ‘Step Brothers.’”
DiCaprio was a different story, as McKay never thought a muse of Martin Scorsese would sign up for one of his movies. “It turns out he really loved the script,” McKay said. “We went back and forth on it. It was about a four-to-five month process with us just kicking around ideas. We took a break for the quarantine, and lo and behold once we figured out a theoretically safe way to shoot this movie, he was in. I couldn’t believe it. It’s no surprise he’s fabulous in the movie.”
Netflix will release “Don’t Look Up” later this year.