How Much Do Actors Get Paid?

by actorguru on August 3, 2008

in Knowing the Basics

Excellent question. Let’s just first say that the average actor doesn’t get paid the gazillions your typical Hollywood movie star makes but you know this. Even most “character actors” you may be familiar with are not getting the megabucks.

In fact, very few actors get paid a lot of money. If you manage to become a “regular” on a hot TV show that will help of course. For episodics or sitcom shows you usually get paid by the week. So that means if you’re guest starring on a show one time–it means you’ll get paid for that week–not including residuals, of course.

We’ll save “residuals” for a different article but for now, here are a few performer agreements from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) that will give you an idea of the actor’s basic pay rate. These are minimum rates based based on SAG’s 2007 agreement. Some actors may get paid more than this based on their experience.

Basic Codified Agreement: SAG Agreement for a full budget feature film:

Principle Performer Rates

Per Day: $759
Per Week: $2,634

Background Actors (Extras)
Per Day: $130
Residuals for theatrical films:
Television/Cable:
Video/Discs: 3.6% of distributor’s gross receipts
4.5% of first million sold, 5.4% thereafter

Low Budget Agreement: SAG Agreement for Low Budget Films (budgeted less than $2.5 million):

Principle Performer Rates

Per Day: $504
Per Week: $1,752

Background Actors (Extras)
Per Day: $130

Modified Low Budget Agreement: SAG Agreement for Modified Low Budget Films (budgeted less than $625,000):

Principle Performer Rates

Per Day: $268
Per Week: $933

Background Actors (Extras)
Per Day: $130
“Television:”
Principle Performer Rates

Per Day: $759
Per Week: $2,634

Background Actors (Extras)
Per Day: $130

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