• Both. Generally speaking, big movie actors usually receive a payment upfront AND recieve royalties from ticket sales and even DVD and VHS release. Although in smaller films, actors will usually get a relatively small amount of money upfront and then a larger share of royalties. This protects the producers. This way, if the film does horribly, then the producers don't lose as much money. If it does well, the actors end up getting paid over a long period of time. To answer the comment, every actor I know, including myself, gets paid via check. Unfortunately, every actor I know, including myself, doesn't get paid millions of dollars for a performance. So I have no idea how the giant Hollywood stars get there pay.
  • As mentioned big stars will often be able to get both an upfront fee and a box office percentage. But the pay deals vary so much. It often depends on how big a name you are and your previous box office. I believe that on the original Star Wars film the cast members were offered a choice of either an upfront payment or a box office cut. Due to the doubt of the films potential success I believe all the main cast member with the exception of Alec Guinness (Obi Wan Kenobi) took an upfront fee. Naturally Alec Guinness ended up being made a multi-millionaire because he took a box office cut instead and so ended up making a lot more than the other cast members. (I can't find the original source for this information at the moment but am 99% sure its true). In recent years there have been certain big names demanding increased payment from DVD revenue and Arnold Schwarzenegger famously got paid $75,000 for his work on the Total Recall special edition DVD. For most regular/normal actors though I believe they get paid a set rate prior to their work.

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