Spike Lee is one of the most prolific film directors in American history, and yet this Sunday, February 24, might mark the first time he wins an Academy Award, at the age of 61. The awards show, often tagged #OscarsSoWhite, has long neglected to recognize artists of colour, and prior to this year, Lee had only been nominated for two Academy Awards — in 1990 for Best Original Screenplay for Do the Right Thing, and again in 1998 for Best Documentary Feature for 4 Little Girls. But now his film BlacKkKlansman is up for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, almost 30 years after his Do the Right Thing Best Director snub. In that time, Lee has made a lot of movies and, with them, a lot of money. Here's how much.
Lee's first feature film, She's Gotta Have It, was also one of his most acclaimed and celebrated (so much so that Lee adapted it into a Netflix show in 2017). It grossed $7 million USD at the box office when it came out. From there, Lee went on to make Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcom X, Red Hook Summer, Summer of Sam, He Got Game, and many more, most of which take place in Brooklyn, where he grew up. Last year's BlacKkKlansman had a $15 million USD budget and earned big bucks at the box office — $48.3 million USD domestically and $87.1 million USD worldwide, to be specific. But it wasn't even his biggest-grossing film — 2006's Inside Man raked in $88 million USD domestically and $187 million USD worldwide.
Lee's career has reached beyond film as well. He has directed commercials for Levi's, Nike, Converse, Taco Bell, and Ben & Jerry's, and even starred in a Capital One commercial with Charles Barkley and Samuel L. Jackson last year. In 2016, the NYPD paid the director $200,000 USD to consult on a new policing campaign.
Celebrity Net Worth values Lee at $40 million USD, a figure that is sure to go up, as he isn't showing any signs of pumping the brakes on filmmaking.