If you're a big fan of The Matrix, or The Matrix Reloaded, you likely assume Keanu Reeves earned a hefty Hollywood sum, and you'd be partly right. He did earn a massive pile of money, but it was more like a Kingly sum. Of course, if you're a big fan of The Matrix Revolutions, you're either imaginary or someone who hasn't actually seen the film.
With roles in action hits like Speed and Chain Reaction, he was an established leading man. He wasn't a big risk, but he also wasn't the first choice for the film. He couldn't command a $20 million salary, but he could negotiate a fat cut of the box office, which was expected to be good.
What wasn't expected was that the man best known for playing Excellent Ted would lead the 1999 film to $460 million in box office receipts.
Reeves' salary for The Matrix was reported to be $10 million plus 10% of the box office take. Quick math says he got $56 million for playing Neo.
He wasn't in a sequel contract, so after The Matrix became the best selling DVD of all time, the studio had some hard negotiating to bring back the star to reprise his role.
For the consecutively filmed The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, Reeves landed a contract of $15 million plus 15% of box office for each.
Those two films went on to block busts as well. The Matrix Reloaded grossed $738 million, and The Matrix Revolutions pulled in (an appropriately low) $423 million.
According to fellow cast members, Reeves preparation for the films was second to none. He showed up early, gave it his all, and always worked to do better and better.
And well he should have, $15 million plus 15% of Reloaded is almost $126 million, with Revolutions paying him over $78 million.
Just for playing Neo, Keanu earned over $260 million dollars... that's not a movie star sum, that's more than a quarter of a billion dollars.
Read that again and really let it sink in... The guy that made people walk out of Bram Stoker's Dracula with a performance so stiff you'd have thought it was a zombie movie, made a quarter billion dollars as a stand in for high-tech computer generated likenesses of him.
Here's what you can do with $260 million:
- 86,000 nose jobs... enough for nearly all the insecure starlets in Hollywood.
- 52 million bed nets for African children, just to put the nose jobs back in perspective.
- At the bargain basement price of $16,000 each, you could buy 16,250 houses in Detroit.
- Enough gas to take your Toyota Prius on a 7 billion mile drive... that's far enough to drive from the sun to Pluto.
- 520 million McDonald's apple pies.
- For that matter, you could buy 173 McDonald's restaurants outright.
- Or you could just buy enough penny whistles to give three to every human being on the earth...
Perhaps the only thing about that should give you any comfort is that he likely paid upwards of $100 million in federal income taxes. Thanks to the fiscally conservative nature of our government, that will almost buy you a single F-22 Raptor... Now that is a good value.