Blunt reportedly was paid significantly less than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for her work on Disney’s Jungle Cruise, earning $9 million (£7.2 million) to his $22 million (£17.6 million) despite being co-leads on the film, according to a TMZ report from unnamed sources. The Wall Street Journal confirms that his term sheet calls for him to earn that amount per film — so his Jungle Cruise salary is on par with his usual rate.
But Blunt has proven to be a box office draw all on her own with the release of Mary Poppins Returns. The movie, in which Blunt plays the title role, is expected to gross $200 million (£160 million) by New Year’s Day, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It has also received four Golden Globes nominations, including one for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy for Blunt. Variety confirmed Blunt will make between $8 and $10 million (£6.4 million and £8 million) for Jungle Cruise.
Giving Blunt — who has opened hits such as The Girl on the Train and A Quiet Place, and done so with more critical acclaim and award recognition than Johnson — less than half her co-star’s salary for presumably doing the same amount of work is, uh, not exactly encouraging to anyone invested in the #TimesUp movement or rectifying the gender pay gap.
Blunt may also be seen as less of a box office draw by Hollywood development executives and investors not because she can’t open big movies (which, as Mary Poppins Returns’ performance has shown, she can) but because many of the action-heavy roles that draw massive box office returns simply don’t exist in the same capacity for women that they do for men. This gives Johnson a preemptive leg up over most female actors when it comes to ticket sales and salaries.
This is where men need to start stepping up and making sure their co-leads are paid with parity, rather than continuing to reinforce the idea that men are more valuable at the box office than women.