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    Are $15 Million Actors Really Worth Such Massive Paychecks?

    Eddie Murphy, Drew Barrymore, Will Ferrell Soul Brother/FilmMagic; Michael Williams/startraksphoto.com; VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

    I love movie stars as much as the next fan, but are folks like Drew Barrymore, to quote Johnny Depp, worth the "stupid money" they get paid?
    —Bella, Fort Stockton, Texas, via the inbox

    According to the moneybots at Forbes magazine, the industry agrees with you and Depp; the magazine recently called out (among others) Barrymore, Denzel Washington and Eddie Murphy as Hollywood's most overpaid actors, along with several other names that may surprise you.

    Is it time to Occupy Hollywood Boulevard? Take a look at the paychecks and decide for yourself...

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    ...starting with Barrymore.

    "The actress tops our 2011 list of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actors," Forbes says, "returning just 40 cents (not a misprint) for every dollar the studios spend on her."

    And how much do they spend on her? Well, last time it was reported, it was in the $15 million range. I doubt it's still there, but don't be shocked if it's still in the millions. Meanwhile, her films have been flailing. Per Forbes, a movie Barrymore did in 2009, Everybody's Fine, earned a very-not-fine $16 million globally. Another film, released in 2007 (when Barrymore's asking price was at that $15 million) was called Lucky You, and it earned only $8 million.

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    On to Murphy. The numbers on him don't look good either, especially considering that Tower Heist is already getting decidedly mixed reviews, and it hasn't even opened yet.

    "For every $1 Murphy was paid in salary, we found that his recent films have returned an average $2.70," Forbes dishes. "To put that in perspective, Nicole Kidman, who ranks 10th on our overpaid list, returns $6.70 for every buck she is paid."

    And jeez, nobody likes Nicole Kidman these days.

    Denzel Washington, Will Ferrell and Nicolas Cage also made the overpaid list this year.

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    Ditto with Reese Witherspoon.

    That's a bit of a shock, because the actress has a reputation as, literally, the most bankable woman in the industry. According to the Ulmer Scale, which measures the celebrity bang-for-buck ration, she has a score of 85; producers who hire Witherspoon have an 85 percent chance of making all of their money back before a single frame has been shot.

    But that doesn't make Witherspoon immune from the forces of a bad economy, or a serious flop, otherwise known as the remaining 15 percent.

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    Last year, that flop was a lifeless romantic comedy called How Do You Know. Witherspoon raked in a reported $15 million for that mess, which went on to earn somewhere between $37 million and $50 million worldwide. (Yes, that is considered "bad" in the bubble known as Hollywood; the film's entire budget was an unbelievable $120 million.) As a result of all that, Witherspoon has, despite her general bankability, been deemed "overpaid" by Forbes.

    "The Oscar winner can't seem to score a hit lately, returning just $3.55 for every dollar she gets paid," Forbes sniffs in its latest issue.

    So what's likely to happen to all these slackers? Well, don't expect any of these people to go poor. More likely, budgets will drop, and so will the actors' asking prices—by a whole $5 million or so, leaving them to earn a paltry $10 million or so per gig.

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