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Tom Cruise tops list of Hollywood's highest-paid actors

By Dorothy Pomerantz
Forbes

Word that Katie Holmes has filed for divorce from her husband of five years, Tom Cruise, left many unanswered questions. Who will end up with Suri? Was Scientology to blame? Why did Holmes file in New York instead of California? And how much money will the actress walk away with?

Bing: The latest on Tom and Katie's divorce

Now add this to the mix: by our count Cruise earned $75 million between May 2011 and May 2012, making him the highest-paid actor in Hollywood.

That money is going to play a crucial role in the divorce proceedings. Especially considering Holmes is asking for sole custody of Suri.

See the full list: Hollywood's Highest-Earning Actors

Cruise and Holmes reportedly had a prenup that will cover alimony, but according to divorce attorney Jeff Landers, prenups almost never include the cost of child support. In New York, child support is based on a formula: 17% of the couple's total income, with each person paying a proportionate amount. But that doesn't mean that Holmes is going to earn $9 million in child support alone.

"There are caps," says Landers. "After $400,000 in earnings it's up to the judge's discretion."

Still, the divorce is likely to hurt Cruise financially, and possibly career-wise. Rumor has it that one of the causes of the divorce is that Holmes wants to distance herself and her daughter from Scientology. The religion has long been a passion for Cruise, and sometimes a P.R. problem. His career first started to falter back in 2005 not just because of his couch jumping antics but also because of a very awkward interview he did with Matt Lauer in which he talked about Scientology and his mistrust of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs.

If Cruise is once again forced to discuss Scientology in public, it could hurt him at the box office.

But for right now, the actor is (at least professionally) on top of the world. Last fall's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" earned a whopping $700 million at the box office worldwide. Cruise got a nice chunk of the film's profits. He also got paid well for the upcoming sci-fi film "Oblivion," which is scheduled to hit theaters in April. Expect Cruise to do all he can to keep the divorce as amicable and quiet as possible.

Cruise's huge year puts him $38 million ahead of the two actors who tied for second place on our list: Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Sandler. We estimate that each star earned $37 million between May 2011 and May 2012.

More: Kristen Stewart tops list of highest-paid actresses

The two couldn't be more different. DiCaprio now focuses exclusively on adult-themed movies, and he gets paid well to appear in them. When the films score, they score big, like 2010's Inception, which grossed $825 million at the global box office. But not every DiCaprio film is a guaranteed hit. Last year's "J. Edgar," which was directed by Clint Eastwood, failed to impress financially or critically. The film earned $80 million globally and failed to score any big Oscar nominations.

DiCaprio is now taking a page from Brad Pitt's playbook with a showy, low-paid role in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming film "Django Unchained." If the movie is a big hit, DiCaprio will earn a bunch off of the movie's profits.

Sandler, at the other extreme, delights in making movies that critics find painfully dumb but that a certain audience loves. Take "Jack and Jill": The 2011 film earned terrible reviews and 10 Razzie awards for how bad it was.

But it didn't flop at the box office. The film earned $150 million on a budget of $80 million. That's not enough for Sony to earn back the movie's production budget from box office receipts, but include DVD money and TV sales, and the studio could break even on it.

To determine who the highest-paid actors in Hollywood are, we considered upfront pay, profit participation, residuals, endorsements and advertising work. We talked to manager, agents, lawyers and other in-the-know folks to come up with our estimates. We did not deduct for things like agent fees or the expenses related to being a celebrity.

Mark Wahlberg failed to make our Celebrity 100 list due to a lack of press and social media buzz, but he does rank as one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. We estimate he earned $27 million between May 2011 and May 2012.

Expect the star to make our list next year though. Wahlberg has been on fire recently. His January action film, "Contraband," earned a healthy $100 million on a budget of $25 million. Now he's shown that an R rating isn't the kiss of death. The comedy "Ted," topped the box office this weekend with $54 million, making it the eighth-best opening for an R movie of all time. Expect Wahlberg to see a big jump in his payday and for the press to start demanding more of the star.

More on Forbes.com:
Gallery: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Split
The Movie Stars With The Most At Stake This Summer
Hollywood's Highest-Paid Actresses

42Comments
Jul 3, 2012 9:59AM
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Tom, there's still a chance to be a real man.  Tell Katie, 'I was serious about my family being most important.  Ef my cult!' 
Jul 3, 2012 11:43AM
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The real reason is because he also is gay like John Travolta.
Jul 3, 2012 10:31AM
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Tom expected Katie to give up her past beliefs and religions, to fit into his scientology lifestyle. Marriage is difficult enough between a husband and wife, but throw in scientology and the stress would be unbarable. Tom was brainwashed a long time ago. I think he really messed up on this one because I think he truly loved Katie. Hope your scientolgy friends can keep you warm at night Tom.

Jul 3, 2012 11:17AM
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I'm quite surprised he is still getting paid all that money for his films. Unless, it's a sequel that guarantees a "hit" I don't see him or his talent to warrant such ridiculous $. I personally, stopped seeing his movies after the way he handled his LAST divorce. There is something secretly wrong with him and until he comes to terms with it he will continue to ONLY fool himself.

 

Not going to support someone with so little "character"... :)

Jul 3, 2012 10:58AM
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Katie married Tom to try to advance her career. She was a tv actress and mediocre at best and he was an A-list movie star. After 5 years all she does is go shopping with Suri for stuff she doesn't even need. Usually I side with the women but I think she wanted to have an oscar by now and it did not happen. Her costar Michelle Williams graduated to a movie actress and oscar nominated and poor Katie is still only known for Dawsons Creek and being Toms wife. She knew about his religion/cult when she married him so I have zero sympathy for her...
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