Entertainment Celebrity Scarlett Johansson out, Sofia Vergara in as pandemic hits acting industry
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Scarlett Johansson out, Sofia Vergara in as pandemic hits acting industry

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The might of streaming has shown its strength once again, this time in a pandemic-ravaged list of the highest-paid female actors – some losing as much as $US40 million in income.

Although their incomes are still more than sizeable, the annual Forbes list shows just how big the blows to Hollywood have been.

Usually it’s the movie stars who dominate the top 10.

But in 2020, actors who have solid TV gigs – or scored a lead in a streaming hit – are the ones making bank, evidence of the coronavirus impact on cinemas and movies.

Modern Family star Sofia Vergara came in at No.1 on the list, with earnings of $US43 million, a sum helped along by her new gig judging on America’s Got Talent.

Meryl Streep appeared on the list for the first time in nearly a decade, helped into fifth position ($24 million total) by her roles in upcoming straight-to-streaming films The Prom and Let Them All Talk.

Meanwhile, last year’s leading lady Scarlett Johansson doesn’t even feature on the list. Her 2019 income of $US56 million has been obliterated by more than $US40 million, it’s estimated.

Penny-pinching: Scarlett Johansson has felt the fallout of the pandemic. Photo: Getty

Scar-Jo’s 2020 smash was meant to be the follow up to Avengers: Endgame – Black Widow, based on her character in the series. Like so many other would-be blockbusters, its release date as been delayed due to the pandemic.

The only entrants on the list who made their keep from traditional movies work (not TV or streaming) were Angelina Jolie (second) and Emily Blunt (sixth).

Australia’ own Nicole Kidman appeared at No.7, and is starring alongside Streep in The Prom.

Changing entertainment landscape

We saw similar patterns when the male counterparts list was released last month. At the top of the pack was Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who made $US87.5 million – of which $23.5 million came from his role in Netflix original Red Notice.

In fact, Forbes calculated, six of the top 10 fellas got paid a collective  $US140.5 million by Netflix.

The figures make sense – Netflix has invested some $US17 billion in the American entertainment market, Forbes reported.

With a ‘return to normal’ date still up in the air, the entertainment industry too has been forced to innovate.

After months and months of delaying its premiere date, Disney made the decision to release live-action remake Mulan on its streaming platform, for a special add-on price for subscribers.

Many other services will have been watching the figures on this experiment, the actual viewing data has been largely clouded by the political fallout from the premiere.

Amazon Prime on Saturday announced it would be the premiere home for the upcoming Borat sequel, which it will stream exclusively on October 23.

As Hollywood attorney Tom Ara said to Forbes: “A film produced for a global streaming service can and will likely be seen by tens of millions of people. In the world of theatrical releases, that type of success could potentially translate into billions of dollars of revenues garnering the talent large box office bonuses and back-end profits.”

Forbes highest-paid female actors

1. Sofia Vergara, $US43 million. Photo: Getty

Sofia Vergara made her 2020 income (that is, the 12 months to June) from Modern Family at $US500,000 an episode, plus a $10 million-per-season job with America’s Got Talent.

2. Angelina Jolie: $US35.5 million Photo: Getty

One of the classic movie stars, Ange’s green came mostly this year from the soon-to-be released The Eternals, a $200 million bonanza of a production from Marvel.

3. Gal Gadot: $US31.5 million. Photo: Getty

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman premiere is also in limbo. Thankfully, she had a $20 million role in Red Notice alongside The Rock.

4. Melissa McCarthy: $US25 million. Photo: Getty

McCarthy is carrying the card for streaming – she’s starring in two upcoming flicks directed by husband Falcone.  She also hosts tiny talent show Little Big Shots.

5. Meryl Streep: $US24 million. Photo: Getty

Meryl Streep found a nice $5 million for her work with Steven Soderbergh in Let Them All Talk, which HBO Max paid $33 million for in total.

6. Emily Blunt: $US22.5 million. Photo: Getty

Like Angelina, Emily Blunt has made her money this year from movies. After the backer’s delight that was A Quiet Place, Blunt had the capital to negotiate her way to an eight-figure salary for its sequel.

7. Nicole Kidman: $US22 million. Photo: Getty

Currently back in her home country filming Nine Perfect Strangers, Nicole Kidman is packing a cool $1 million per episode for upcoming HBO series The Undoing.

8. Ellen Pompeo: $US19 million. Photo: Getty

Even after all this time, Grey’s still pays. Ellen Pompeo brings home $550,000 per episode of the hit medical drama.

9. Elisabeth Moss: $US16 million. Photo: Getty

Elisabeth Moss brought in $1 million for each episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. She also had a surprise windfall with The Invisible Man – it cost just $7 million to make, but turned around $134.4 million. Moss shared in those profits.

10. Viola Davis: $US15.5 million. Photo: Getty

It was her role as Annalise Keating in Netflix OG How To Get Away With Murder that helped Viola Davis find her first entry in the Forbes list.