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Jim Carrey: Hollywood’s Bargain?

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Jim Carrey may have had the greatest stretch of movies by an actor. Let’s take a look at his films starting in his breakout year of 1994: (Figures in millions)

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Look at those numbers again: 1 year, 3 movies, $650 million in profits. THIS WAS HIS BREAKOUT YEAR! Sure, he had movie roles prior to this, but do you really want to claim Peggy Sue Got Married as his starring role? Exactly.  His roots on In Living Color gave him a dedicated audience to start, but other than that, his previous movie attempts culminated as a red, furry alien in Earth Girls are Easy (Jeff Goldblum! Damon Wayans! Geena Davis!).

For these three films, Carrey made a combined $8,890,000, an incredible bargain given the results. I’ve looked, and I can’t find another actor who had this much success in one year as a breakout star.

But why stop there?

1995 brought about his role as the Riddler in Batman Forever, which grossed $336 million on a $100 million budget.  The year also saw him reprise his Ace Ventura role in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, which brought in $182 million in profit.  So let’s review: 2 years, 5 movies, over $1,000,000,000 in profits. That’s a million with three more 0’s. A BILLION! Carrey’s salary count for those five films: $28,890,000, a solid jump in pay from his previous three films, but still an incredible bargain.

1996 brought us The Cable Guy.  Not his finest film, but it still turned a $55 million profit while paying Carrey $20 million for the role, a record at the time. Reviews for the film weren’t endearing, but due to Carrey’s quick rise fans rushed to see it.  Liar Liar arrived the following year in which he fantastically played a loveable, but unreliable lawyer/father. He also received $20 million for this film, bringing his total to $68,890,000 through seven films.  That’s a lot of cake. But wait, there’s more!

In 1998 Carrey starred in The Truman Show, a remarkable film about media manipulation and social science ($204 million profit).  The film was a more serious role for Carrey, moving on from his socially awkward/silly/goofy characters that we came to expect from him. He continued that trend with 1999’s Man on the Moon, a biopic about deceased (or is he?) comedian Andy Kaufman.  Critics gave Carrey’s performance wonderful reviews and Carrey went on to win a Golden Globe, despite the fact the film itself lost $35 million in theaters.  It was another step away from the roles that thrust him into the spotlight and another step towards creating a new persona for his films.

I need to stop here before I get too caught up and this turns into a 20,000-word column about Carrey’s movies. If you want to take a look at how his films fared, check out the list below. Out of Carrey’s twenty-three starring roles since 1994, only three of them lost money in theaters (Man on the Moon, The Majestic, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone – which somehow only lost $3 million. We can pretend that one didn’t happen).  In 20 years, Carrey’s films have amassed a total profit of $3,167,000,000. Three. Billion. Dollars. Carrey’s film salary capped out at $25 million in 2008’s Yes Man, though he did get a piece of How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ merchandising to go along with his $20 million pay, so who knows how much he actually made from that deal.

So there you have it.  A longer-than-intended piece about Carrey’s breakout (with a chart!) that puts into perspective just how quickly his career took off. Check out the info below (figures in millions):

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Here’s a picture from Carrey’s next film, Dumb and Dumber, To.
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Tags : Jim Carrey
Nick Hershey

The author Nick Hershey

Nick was born and raised in Amish country, has a beard, but isn’t Amish. He’s a fan of winter as long as he’s at the top of a mountain with a board under his feet. He’s an avid sports fan, movie junkie, tv bum, and music enthusiast who still purchases CDs for some reason.