Arnold Schwarzenegger, a name synonymous with Hollywood action movies, is best known for his roles in the Terminator franchise, Running Man, Predator, and Commando. However, it was the 1988 comedy film Twins that ultimately earned him the largest paycheck of his career.
From Action Star to Comedic Genius
Arnold Schwarzenegger first rose to fame as the lead character in the Conan the Barbarian movies, where his muscular physique and natural charisma made him an instant fan favorite. However, Schwarzenegger was not content with being typecast as an action star.
He believed that diversifying his roles would give him a competitive edge in Hollywood, so when he came across the script for Twins, he saw it as an opportunity to showcase his comedic chops.
The film, directed by Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters), tells the story of twin brothers Julius and Vincent, played by Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, who are separated at birth as part of a secret experiment by a group of scientists. The twins reunite as adults and embark on a hilarious journey of self-discovery and sibling bonding. The pairing of Schwarzenegger, a 6-foot-2 Austrian behemoth, with DeVito, a 5-foot Italian-American, was an unconventional yet brilliant choice.
A Risky Proposition: Schwarzenegger’s Strategic Decision
At the time, the idea of an action star like Schwarzenegger taking on a comedic role was seen as a risky proposition. Both Schwarzenegger and DeVito were considered “expensive guys” in the industry, commanding hefty salaries for their work.
To overcome this, Schwarzenegger made a strategic decision to forgo an upfront salary in favor of profit participation. This meant that instead of receiving a fixed payment, he would receive a percentage of the film’s profits.
This move demonstrated Schwarzenegger’s confidence in the project and also allowed the film’s budget to be allocated more effectively. In the end, Reitman, Schwarzenegger, and DeVito agreed to split 37.5% of the film’s profits, with Schwarzenegger receiving 20%. This deal structure was a rarity in Hollywood at the time, and it ultimately paid off for all parties involved.
Box Office Smash Hit
Initially doubted, Twins rocked the box office. In December 1988, it earned $111 million in the U.S. and another $104 million globally. The film’s performance surpassed predictions, boosting Schwarzenegger’s fame as an actor skilled in action and comedy. The success of Twins opened up new opportunities for Schwarzenegger, who went on to star in other comedies such as Kindergarten Cop and Jingle All the Way.
The film’s popularity went beyond the box office, with strong sales of DVDs and frequent TV screenings in the United States and worldwide. These extra earnings boosted Schwarzenegger’s profit participation and further increased his earnings from the film.
It is rumored that Arnold received $35 million dollars through international sales, video/DVD sales and TV residuals. Schwarzenegger has repeatedly stated that making Twins was the best decision he ever made and that he earned more money from Twins than any of the Terminator movies.
A Lasting Impact on Hollywood Deal Structures
Twins’s success and its special profit-sharing deal influenced how the film industry makes deals with A-list stars. Actors and agents saw the perks of getting a cut of film profits, not just upfront pay. This change sparked more rewarding deals for some of Hollywood’s top names.
One instance of this trend is Jim Carrey’s deal for his role in Yes Man, where he received 36.2% of the film’s back-end profits instead of a fixed salary. This has become increasingly common in the industry, especially for big-name actors using their fame to bargain better terms.
Schwarzenegger’s Career Trajectory and Net Worth
Twins hugely influenced Schwarzenegger’s acting path. After showing his comedy skills, he explored different roles in films like Last Action Hero and True Lies. These movies, along with his Terminator hits, made him one of Hollywood’s top movie stars.
Thanks to his profitable acting career, Schwarzenegger’s wealth has soared. He’s made money from acting, real estate investments, and endorsements. His political stint as governor of California from 2003 to 2011 also boosted his fame and fortune.
Looking to the Future: The Possibility of ‘Triplets’
In recent years, there have been rumors of a sequel to Twins, tentatively titled Triplets. The film would have Schwarzenegger and DeVito back as Julius and Vincent, with Eddie Murphy as a possible new brother.
The film’s schedule and release are still up in the air, but fans and industry folks are excited to see Julius and Vincent again. A hit Triplets movie could highlight Schwarzenegger’s comedy appeal and Twins’s lasting effect.
Schwarzenegger’s rise from a tiny Austrian village to Hollywood’s elite shows tenacity. As an actor, governor, and millionaire, it proves that even the most unexpected dreams can come true.