When you do your greatest work, you would think you would get your greatest pay. You would think.
That is pretty rare.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most iconic role as the Terminator earned him a whopping $75,000. His starring role as Hercules paid just $12,000. That can be a lot to many people, but for a starring role in a big hollywood film, it is and was peanuts.
He had to take low pay to justify the high risk of him starring in the movie. Only after it was proven and made tons of money for everyone involved (it made $80 million worldwide) could he then ask for a paycheck on future films.
The movie he made the most money on? Twins.
He made an estimated $35 million dollars on the movie with extremely poor reviews from audiences and critics alike.
I found most successful people have the same story.
Nobel prize winners only get cushy jobs with amazing salaries after winning the prize. The prize was an award for work they already did!
The woman who designed the Vietnamese Memorial wasn’t paid at all. Maya Lin designed it by winning a contest while still an undergraduate in college. Only afterwards was she given opportunities to design outdoor works all over the world for good pay. Had she tried to get payment for that first memorial, she wouldn’t have been given a chance.
Milton Glaser came up with the design for I love New York. Because he kept no rights to it, every little bodega and tourist store in the city printed and sold it. It is estimated that $30 million a year is earned on swag with this logo. These stores would not have printed it if they had to pay a royalty fee to Milton.
This happens time and time again.
Early employees who join startups frequently feel “screwed” when the company has a big exit. It is often only their next role where they showed their expertise in a high growth company that they get their due. Founders themselves get poor terms on their term sheet for their first successful company. Only afterwards, do they have the connections and clout to get a fair deal.
Imagine a filmmaker who makes a great movie then stops. There are tons of stories of one hit wonders in music and Hollywood who never get a decent paycheck.
Troy Duffy made almost nothing for The Boondock Saints, despite it becoming a cult classic. Of course he most likely wanted to make more films but annoyed enough people with his personality and need for control along with being blacklisted by the now infamous Harvey Weinstein. He only made a decent chunk of change from the sequel many years later.
Dave Chappelle made very little money for his famous sketch show. He was offered $50 million dollars after he had proved himself for 2 seasons but of course turned that down as he felt the show had run its course. He is now profiting with major Netflix deals for his specials.
That is why is so important to continue producing things to get your fair share.