As a movie star, Adam Sandler has been a walking — make that stumbling — anomaly. His comic bits are, well, dopey to the point of distraction. He does his best work when he’s mumbling, often in a faux hillbilly accent. And the critics darn near hate him.
But his films work where it counts, with the folks who plunk down their $9 or so for his films. His latest, “Click,” a shameless takeoff on the old holiday chestnut “It’s a Wonderful Life,” uses a remote control that allows a workaholic architect to fast forward and rewind his life. It was skewered by critics (“It’s not worth wasting money on,” wrote Claudia Puig in USA Today), but it opened strongly on June 23 with a $40 million first weekend.
That marks the continuation of a remarkable streak for the 39-year-old Sandler, who also has had big-league hits in recent years with dope-fests like “Mr. Deeds” and “50 First Dates.” The former “Saturday Night Live” cast member is among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, a guy who usually posts hefty returns for the studio brass who trust millions to put him, and his antics, on the big screen.
Still, Sandler is not the leader among the most bankable guys to mug for the camera and see their name up in lights. That distinction goes to a little-known comedian named Tyler Perry, who has burst out of nowhere with a couple of midsize hits in the past two years –- “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” in 2005 and “Madea’s Family Reunion” this year.
Neither film passed the magic $100 million mark reserved for blockbusters, but neither cost more than $6 million to produce. The result: the 37-year-old writer and comedian takes top honors in BusinessWeek.com’s ROI Award for Hollywood’s big earner.
How the math works
The ROI Award goes to the actor who enjoys the highest return on investment for Hollywood studios who pay the freight. As any first-year business student knows, a return on investment is a measure of benefit a company gets for the money it spends to do business. Expressed as a percentage or ratio, it is derived by dividing the benefit of the investment (i.e. the return) by the cost of the investment. MORE