Sharknado, the five-film Syfy franchise that seemingly exists to be mocked (and completely welcomes the mocking) seems a lot more serious once you look at its main star’s salary. According to a report from the Hollywood Reporter, Ian Ziering is making $500,000 for the fifth movie in the series, which debuts this weekend, and is out-earning his co-star Tara Reid:
For Sharknado 5, everything is bigger, starting with the budget ($3 million, double the cost of the original) and star salaries — Ziering now makes $500,000 per picture. Asylum manages to limit costs when it comes to Reid's paycheck — she makes about a quarter of what her male co-star earns on each installment.
Ziering’s salary is eyebrow-raising not only because of the wage gap that exists between him and Reid but also because it’s a lot of money for a franchise that, according to THR’s numbers, peaked at 3.87 million viewers for 2014’s Sharknado 2. To put that number in perspective, in early 2017, a midseason episode of the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait drew almost double that number, with 7.33 million total viewers.
Given those ratings, it’s unclear how profitable the Sharknado franchise is — the exact numbers are hard to find. This fifth installment reportedly had a budget of $3 million, and Asylum, the studio that produces the franchise, had a $5 million profit in 2012.
But its true draw may be the attention its cameos and ridiculous storylines typically receive in the news and on social media: THR reports that the first film, for example, was the subject of as many as 5,000 tweets per minute.
Ziering’s salary becomes even more striking when you consider it in the context of the summer’s biggest movie so far, Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ Wonder Woman. Star Gal Gadot’s base salary for the film was $300,000 — a full $200,000 less than Ziering’s Sharknado 5 paycheck — and the movie has since made more than $789 million worldwide.
Gadot’s salary became the target of outrage earlier this summer after someone erroneously claimed that she was paid more than $10 million less for Wonder Woman than Henry Cavill was paid for 2013’s Man of Steel. Though her salary was largely in line with what other actors have been paid for debut superhero movies — in 2010, for example, Chris Evans was reportedly paid around $300,000 to star in Captain America: The First Avenger — many people felt, in the wake of Wonder Woman’s success, that Gadot had been shortchanged for her role.
One can only assume that when it’s time to negotiate for Wonder Woman 2, she’ll demand at least as much as Ziering earns for Sharknado.
Head over to THR to learn everything you ever wanted to know about how the Sharknado sausage is made.