Sandra Bullock is set to enjoy one of Hollywood’s biggest paydays after the astronomical success of Gravity has secured the actress a $70 million fee.
The space thriller, expected to sweep Sunday night’s Oscars, has taken $703 million (£421 million) at box offices across the globe so far.
Bullock, 49, was paid an upfront $20m basic fee for her astronaut role. But under her deal with Warner Bros, she will take 15 per cent of the studio’s share of theatrical revenue, as well as a cut from home video, television and other sources.
Gravity is expected to pass through the $750 million box office mark, and once Warner has taken its 45 per cent share of the proceeds, Bullock’s share will total $50 million, including her upfront fee.
Additional earnings from television sales, DVDs and downloads will generate a further $20 million at least for Bullock, Hollywood sources believe.
Bullock, tipped to win Best Actress at the Oscars, will close the pay gap between Hollywood’s biggest male and female stars. Last year Forbes named Robert Downey Jr. the highest paid actor with earnings of $75 million, of which $50 million came from his role as Iron Man.
Oscars 2014: Best Actor and Actress nominees
Oscars 2014: Best Actor and Actress nominees
1/20 Cate Blanchett (Best Actress)
Blanchett has been nominated for Best Actress for her role as a deeply troubled New York socialite in Blue Jasmine.
2/20 Sandra Bullock (Best Actress)
Bullock is nominated for her performance as a medical engineer in Alfonso Cuaron's space adventure Gravity.
3/20 Meryl Streep (Best Actress)
Here pictured left with Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis, Streep has earned a nod for her performance as Violet Weston in August: Osage County.
4/20 Judi Dench (Best Actress)
British actress Dench is up for Best Actress for her role as Philomena Lee in Stephen Frears' Philomena.
5/20 Amy Adams (Best Actress)
Adams is nominated for Best Actress for her role as Sydney Prosser in American Hustle - here pictured left with Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence.
Francois Duhamel/ Annapurna Productions
6/20 Leonardo DiCaprio (Best Actor)
DiCaprio has picked up his fourth Oscar nomination - but will he finally win? - for his performance as debauched stockbroker Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street.
7/20 Chiwetel Ejiofor (Best Actor)
British actor Ejiofor has been nominated for an Oscar for his role as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave.
8/20 Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor)
McConaughey is up for Best Actor Oscar for his role as an emaciated AIDS patient who smuggles anti-viral drugs into the US in Dallas Buyers Club.
9/20 Christian Bale (Best Actor)
British actor Bale has earned a nod for his performance as con artist Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle.
10/20 Bruce Dern (Best Actor)
Dern, left, is nominated for his role in Nebraska as elderly father Woody Grant who embarks on a trip with his estranged son.
11/20 Bradley Cooper (Best Supporting Actor)
Cooper, left, has earned an Oscar nod for his supporting role as a wild FBI agent in David O Russell's American Hustle.
12/20 Barkhad Abdi (Best Supporting Actor)
Abdi is up for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a Somali pirate who hijacks Tom Hanks' ship in Captain Phillips.
13/20 Michael Fassbender (Best Supporting Actor)
Michael Fassbender, left, is nominated for his role as plantation owner Edwin Epps in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave.
14/20 Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor)
Leto has picked up a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role as a transgender AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club.
15/20 Jonah Hill (Best Supporting Actor)
Hill has earned a nod for his supporting role as a charismatic salesman in The Wolf of Wall Street - pictured here, left, in a scene with Best Actor nominee DiCaprio.
16/20 Julia Roberts (Best Supporting Actress)
Julia Roberts, here seen embracing Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep, is nominated for her role in August: Osage County.
17/20 Jennifer Lawrence (Best Supporting Actress)
Lawrence has been nominated for her role as Rosalyn Rosenfeld in American Hustle - she won Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook last year.
18/20 Lupita Nyong'o (Best Supporting Actress)
Kenyan actress Nyong'o has earned a nod for her role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, here pictured with Best Supporting Actor nominee Michael Fassbender.
19/20 Sally Hawkins (Best Supporting Actress)
Sally Hawkins, left, and Andrew Dice Clay in a scene from the Woody Allen film, Blue Jasmine. British actor Hawkins is nominated for her role as Jasmine's sister Ginger.
20/20 June Squibb (Best Supporting Actress)
Squibb is nominated for her role as Kate Grant, wife of Best Actor nominee Bruce Dern's character in Alexander Payne's Nebraska.
Bullock’s windfall is partly down to timing, luck and smart negotiating skills. The actress was riding high after her Oscar win for The Blind Side when the deal was struck in 2010.
Angelina Jolie had pulled out of Gravity when her management failed to strike a deal with Warner Bros. The studio needed an A-list replacement who could carry the film’s long sequences of a woman floating alone in space, giving Bullock considerable leverage.
Such “first dollar” guaranteed box office deals for actors are becoming rare, the Hollywood Reporter said, because studios now want to recoup all the costs for expensive productions before sharing the profits with talent.
Bullock’s co-star George Clooney, Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón and producer David Heyman are also believed to have “back end” pay deals.
Cuarón and Heyman may have renegotiated their deals during shooting, reducing their upfront fees, in order to keep the ambitious 3D film on track as the budget rose beyond $110m.
Bullock's windfall contrasts with the admission by fellow Oscar-nominee Jonah Hill that he gladly accepted the Screen Actors Guild minimum of $60,000 to work with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio on The Wolf of Wall Street. “I would sell my house and give (Scorsese) all my money to work for him,” Hill said.
Downey Jr. was denied his own Gravity payday. He was originally cast as the lead but Avengers and Iron Man 3 scheduling conflicts ended his involvement.
If Bullock gets to deliver another Oscar-winning speech, she might be advised to thank the team which boosted her bank balance – her representatives at CAA and the Ziffren Brittenham law firm.
Bullock has selected her roles sparingly in recent years. She is next due to appear as the voice of villain Scarlet Overkill in Minions, a 3D animated prequel to Despicable Me, set for release in Summer 2015. Gravity is up 10 prizes at the Oscars including best film and best director for Cuarón.
Hollywood’s biggest pay-days
Agreed a $30 million flat fee to return in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions sequels but a 15 per cent cut of those movies' combined gross earnings bumped his total earnings to $185m.
Paid $14 million for role in supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense and agreed a 14 per cent cut of the gross. Surprise box office success made Willis $103 million richer.
Waived his usual $25 million fee for a profit-share agreement in 1994 romantic comedy Forrest Gump. Decision vindicated as huge hit paid out Hanks $70 million.
Back-end profit shares earned Cruise $100 million for both Mission: Impossible 2 and War of the Worlds. Tougher economic times forced star to cut his basic $25 million fee for MI: Ghost Protocol in 2011.
The veteran pocketed $65 million for 2008 return in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Waived full fee for profit share to help Paramount cover soaring budget.