Pretty Woman has long been a fan-favorite for lovers of the romantic comedy genre, starring a young Julia Roberts in a career-defining role and Richard Gere, an already big name who was a hot commodity at the time. How did Gere’s pay reflect his value in Pretty Woman?
Even without a definite number, it’s likely that Richard Gere was paid somewhere in the millions for the role of Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman, a movie about a corporate raider and the romance with his hired escort.
Although there’s nothing concrete about that aforementioned number that Gere was paid, it’s pretty likely when you sit down and do the maths. The combination of the success of the movie, Gere’s popularity, and the wage of his co-star, he was almost certainly earning at least a few million for the role.
How Much did his Co-Star Earn?
Julia Roberts who starred alongside Gere earned a paycheck of around $300,000. If you take into account the fact that Roberts was being paid that amount while still being a relatively unknown name in the movie industry, then you can only imagine what Gere got paid for his role.
It might strike some as being a little unfair that Roberts was paid so little for a role that to a lot of people is one of the most memorable from the library of her movies, especially since she had already had the honor of grabbing an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
She had only been in a small handful of larger-scale productions up until that point, only one of which had successfully managed to gross more than $10 million, so the studio and producers presumably just didn’t see any real financial benefit to having her name attached to the movie.
They would definitely see the value of Roberts after the movie, as the ensuing tidal wave of popularity would carry her into one of the top-earning spots of the 90s and beyond. In an almost overnight success, Roberts would go from being a rising young actor to a top-tier A-lister.
How Highly was Gere Valued?
By the time he was cast in Pretty Woman, Gere was already starring in projects that would rack up profits well into the tens of millions during their opening weekends. Pretty Woman was certainly his biggest, however, with the opener outstripping anything that he had previously been a part of.
It managed to generate a stunning $180 million in the box office, on domestic gross alone. Worldwide, you can double that number and stick another hundred on the end, for a jaw-dropping $460 million.
For the next few years, Gere’s salary would be one of the highest in the industry, competing with the big blockbuster stars of the era, such as Cruise, Gibson, and Schwarzenegger. It’s perfectly conceivable that he received a paycheck somewhat similar in Pretty Woman, though there should definitely be some consideration for what that movie did for his star power and likely also for the estimated salary numbers.
An Almost Missed Opportunity
Looking back on it now, taking a part in this movie was the best decision that both Gere and Roberts could have made. One of the most famous, best-grossing rom coms of all time, that still holds records for its performance to this day, it would have been a huge mistake not to have been a part of it.
That missed opportunity was almost a reality for Gere, however. The directors were originally having difficulty casting the role of Gere’s character, Edward Lewis, and had been turned down by multiple actors they had courted for involvement in the role, including Gere himself who refused on multiple occasions.
It turns out that it was Roberts herself who managed to persuade Gere, requiring her to almost beg Gere to be a part of the movie. Thankfully, for everyone involved including himself, he accepted.
Although they didn’t know it yet, the two were destined to be quite the captivating pair on-screen together, capturing the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere. The enchanting effect that they produced together wouldn’t just be constrained to a single movie, either.
When the two finally reunited in their next cinematic outing, it would be in the film Runaway Bride. This time, expectations, star power evaluations, and payments were a lot different, with both stars earning over $10 million each.
Although it wouldn’t be as successful as the previous outing, the two will forever be etched in stone as one of the most memorable romcom pairings.