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Dwayne Johnson Gets Record-Breaking Payday For Amazon's Red One Amid Actor Strike

Hollywood is taking hit after hit during the SAG-AFTRA strike as actors fight back against the pay disparity between executives and working actors. However, amidst all the chaos, Dwayne Johnson nabbed himself a record-breaking payday for his upcoming Christmas movie, "Red One." 

According to a recent report from Puck, the WWE-star-turned-actor is getting more than $50 million guaranteed to make Amazon's "Red One," which he stars in alongside Chris Evans. Even with movie studios' recent ridiculous spending, the contract is unprecedented, even for an actor of Johnson's caliber. Not only is it his highest-ever payout, but it secures Johnson the new record for the largest upfront paycheck for any actor for a single role. As for "Red One," sources told the outlet, "The movie is way over budget and sort of off the rails," but Johnson's fee is guaranteed, meaning he's getting his payday one way or another. 

Back in November, Johnson took to Instagram to announce the start of production on "Red One," introducing J.K. Simmons as the movie's Santa Claus. "This is a massive globe trotting & fun movie that brings Christmas home to you and your families in a way that you've never seen before," Johnson wrote, promising that quite the spectacle was on the way. Now that we know a little more about his "Red One" contract," it's no surprise he was so giddy about the project, although the news couldn't have come at a worse time.

Fans aren't too happy about The Rock's payday

Dwayne Johnson's record-breaking contract wouldn't have been possible without the shift to streaming, which saw studios dump endless amounts of money into the latest trend, offering A-list actors ridiculous upfront sums. Unfortunately for Johnson, the news of his contract broke at the wrong time, and people weren't too happy to hear about his payday.

On Twitter, @Shiftygism suggested, "The only way an actor should make this much is on the backend percentage of a highly successful box office," which would be more akin to the pre-streaming industry. Johnson's contract made @FPL_Cowboy question some things, writing, "Yet they can't pay writers a liveable wage." @Matthewgleslie pointed out the inopportune timing of the news, saying, "Not the best look for The Rock getting paid $50m for 'Red One' while the nonstop stream of bad news hits everyman SAG-AFTRA members."

@Brobastii pointed out the studio could use some of this money elsewhere, writing, "Take away about 40M of that and give it to writers and underpaid working-class actors." @Abstruse offered a different take, pointing out that despite The Rock's payday putting him atop other actors, it still doesn't compare to the highest studio executives' annual paycheck, like David Zaslav, who makes over $100 million. @RickRolly27 simply said, "And there are some main/side actors from TV shows or movies making scraps compared to this," laughing that studios are willing to pay this much for The Rock but not for working-class actors.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. To learn more about why writers and actors are currently on strike, click here for an up-to-date explainer from our Looper team.