In the ongoing story of “The Avengers is making all the money”, The Hollywood Reporter has a piece about Robert Downey Jr.’s Avengers bonus money. RDJ took a huge upfront pay cut to be in The Avengers (so did everyone else) but, thanks to a deal negotiated after Iron Man was a hit in 2008, RDJ is set to rake in around $50 million thanks to backend percentage points and bonuses.

I had been wondering what the backend deals looked like for The Avengers cast—there’s no way that group of actors took pay cuts without arranging for a payout if the movie was a hit. What surprised me was the huge disparity between RDJ and everyone else. Estimates for RDJ’s percentage points range from 5%-7% of the box office, plus bonuses for milestones reached, such as $100 million, et cetera, so he’s pulling down at least $50 million. I’m going to emphasize the at least—there’s no word on what kind of cut RDJ is getting from merchandising, or if there’s a bonus scale for home video revenue as well. But no one else is making anything close to that kind of money. THR estimates that the Chrises Hemsworth and Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner will make low seven figures off the back, with Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson making in the high-sevens.

What impressed me about The Avengers—well, one of many things—was that all of these actors were able to backseat their egos in order to get the job done. This group of people has enough going on individually that sharing as much screen time as they do isn’t career-essential for any of them. But they knew in order to get this movie made, they were going to have play nice and let the others share the spotlight. And it totally worked. The Avengers is so fun to watch largely in part because you can tell this is a group of people who enjoyed the hell out of working together. Such disparity over money could be a trouble spot down the line though. Actors are competitive, jealous creatures. Marvel may be signing away much more of their future profits in order to get the band back together for a sequel.

(Lainey: and again, my ongoing point about RDJ - we’re no longer dealing with a “fringe” player here, you know? This is not 2001. He’s not the wildcard, the one who would disrupt Hollywood to “keep it real”. RDJ, with studio money and studio influence, multiple studios, actually, is The Establishment now. MONEY is his motivation. Think about that the next time you entertain the thought of him posting anonymously on message boards.)