Weekend 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?
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.
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.
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.