Marvel’s “The Avengers” is a global box-office sensation, but among studio executives, it’s being hailed as much as a triumph of smart dealmaking. After all, the famously frugal Marvel managed to corral six hot stars into one film without breaking the bank. But Robert Downey Jr., 47, seems to be the lone exception to Marvel’s strict cost controls.
According to multiple knowledgeable sources, Iron Man/Tony Stark is set for a highflying payday of about $50 million once box-office bonuses and backend compensation are factored in. (Two sources claim the number could go higher than $50 million once the ultimate box-office haul of “Avengers” is known, but another cautions that it could be years before the final number is known.) While on par with the upper echelon of franchise movie stars, that number blows away his superhero co-stars, all of whom will make a small fraction of Downey’s total, even as “Avengers” has a shot at topping the final “Harry Potter” film’s $1.32 billion global haul.
Why the difference? When Marvel’s “Iron Man” grossed a surprising $585 million worldwide in 2008, Downey’s reps at CAA and the Hansen Jacobson law firm renegotiated a deal to include what multiple sources say is a slice of Marvel’s revenue from future movies in which he plays Iron Man (one source puts it in the 5 percent to 7 percent range; another source disputes the percentage. Marvel and Downey’s reps declined comment).