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Will Smith and Adam Sandler made millions for bad movies on Netflix

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  • Will Smith ($42 million) and Adam Sandler ($39.5
    million) were two of the highest-paid actors in Forbes’ annual
    list, at No. 6 and No. 8 respectively.
  • A big chunk of both their earnings came from making
    Netflix original movies that were eviscerated by critics but
    garnered more favorable reactions from audiences.
  • Netflix doesn’t appear to care about the critics when
    doing certain kinds of movie deals.

A-list Hollywood stars Will Smith and Adam Sandler have found a
new way of making money: starring in terrible Netflix original
movies.

On Wednesday,
Forbes released its list
of the 10 highest-paid actors
between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018. George Clooney
came in first despite not having been in a movie
, thanks to
the $700 million sale of his company Casamigos Tequila.

But two of the other entries were powered by significant
paychecks from Netflix. Adam Sandler came in at No. 8 with $39.5
million, a large chunk of which came from his sprawling movie
deal with Netflix. Sandler originally signed a four-movie deal
with Netflix in 2014, which was extended for another four films
in 2017.

Sandler’s Netflix films have been universally trashed by critics.
His first movie for Netflix, 2015’s “The Ridiculous 6,” has a
stunning 0% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. 2016’s “The Do-Over”
has only a slightly better 5%. None of his Netflix movies so far
have gotten over a 30% Rotten Tomatoes score from critics.

But Netflix’s execs love Sandler, praising how his comedy travels
around the world and the high viewership of the movies he’s made
with the company. And people must be watching otherwise the
streaming giant would never have extended his deal for another
four movies last year.

Netflix has used the examples of Sandler and Smith as a sign that
critics are out of touch.

Netflix’s fantasy cop movie “Bright,” starring Smith, was its
first foray into a true blockbuster. The movie
reportedly cost $90 million to make
, $20 million of which
went to Smith, which helped him into the No. 6 spots on Forbes’
list at $42 million overall.

Critics tore the movie apart, giving it a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes,
but audiences were more favorable. The movie’s audience rating on
Rotten Tomatoes sits at 84% and had
11 million viewers its opening weekend on the service, according
to Nielsen
.

Earlier this year, Netflix’s programming boss Ted Sarandos
referenced the disconnect between the critic and audience
reaction.

“Critics are an important part of the artistic process but are
pretty disconnected from the commercial prospects of a film,”

Sarandos said
. “If people are watching this movie and loving
it, that’s the measurement of success. And if the critics get
behind it or don’t, that’s a select group of social media
influencers talking to a specific audience.”

And based on Netflix’s extension of its deal with Sandler, the
company is ignoring the critics when deciding whether to shell
out cash. We’ll see if more Hollywood stars follow Sandler and
Smith’s lead.

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