|Rober downey juniour|
Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar–never heard of them? They earned more than Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Johnny Depp, all without being U.S. household names.
For the first time ever, this year’s ranking of the World’s Highest-Paid Actors looks outside the U.S. to the create the first ever truly global dollar tally of film’s leading men.
The list features 12 newcomers, five from India alone. Of 34 actors, Indian stars comprised the largest number of listees after the U.S., earning a combined $140.5 million.
Three Bollywood actors ranked in the top 10. Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan each made $33.5 million to tie at seventh place–that’s more than Chris Pratt and Ben Affleck combined. Bachchan, 72, out-earns the next oldest actor on the list, 63-year-old Taken star Liam Neeson, by $14 million, thanks to his roles in flicks such as 2014′s Bhoothnath Returns. Bachchan bolsters his earnings as the longstanding host of India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (Bachchan’s version of the show, Kaun Banega Crorepati, recorded an average weekly viewership of 5.2 million in its 8th season, which aired in 2014.)
Salman Khan, Bollywood’s bad boy, tied with Bachchan despite a career long since trailed by controversies. In 2006, he was convicted of poaching an endangered gazelle on a 1998 hunting trip, while in May 2015 Khan was sentenced to five years in prison for a 2002 hit-and-run car incident which killed a homeless man. (Mumbai’s High Court has suspended his sentence while he appeals his conviction.)
Akshay Kumar ranks ninth with $32.5 million in annual earnings–equal to George Clooney and Brad Pitt’s combined haul in the same time frame. Making an average of four movies a year, he boasts a production schedule busier than most Hollywood or Bollywood stars. Kumar earned top rupee for roles in 2014 movies such as Holiday and Entertainment and bolstered his paycheck hosting Indian reality TV show Dare 2 Dance.
With an $26 million payday, Shah Rukh Khan ranked at No. 18 on the list of The World’s Highest-Paid Actors, earns from movies such as Happy New Year and Fan, as well as lucrative endorsements including Pan Masala. He makes the same amount as Will Smith and more than Matt Damon, Hugh Jackman or Russel Crowe.
Ranbir Kapoor’s $15 million cash out rounds out the Indian contingent. Though he made less than his compatriots, he still out-earned Chris Pratt, Chris Evans and Hong Kong star Andy Lau.
So how do Bollywood’s stars make so much money? The answer lies in the structure of their compensation. Though Indian movies gross far less than U.S. films at the box office, they recoup costs by selling satellite rights to TV channels. Unlike the U.S., where first dollar gross deals are a thing of the past, Bollywood stars continue to earn a cut of each film’s ticketing revenue.
Like their U.S. counterparts, they also supplement movie pay with product endorsements. Though these tend to be less lucrative than American stars’ seven figure deal, Bollywood’s best tend to rep over 10 different products, some more glamorous than others. Kumar, for example, endorses Honda motorcycles, a range of white vests and a brand of steel pipes, among others.