Following its release in 1997, Titanic became one of the biggest films of all-time, which has since grossed well over $2.1 billion at the worldwide box office and placing it at No.3 of the highest-grossing films ever.
Given that Leonardo DiCaprio already had an established career at the time of his casting as Jack Dawson, trust and believe that the Oscar award-winning superstar, who earned $25 million for The Wolf of Wall Street, didn’t have to worry about receiving a measly paycheck for his work on the motion picture because Leo signed a multi-million dollar deal.
Of course, it was nowhere near the money he gets per film these days, but the sum was still impressive nonetheless.
How Much Was Leonardo DiCaprio Paid For ‘Titanic’?
Playing Jack Dawson in Titanic earned Leonardo a salary worth $2.5 million, but there were even bigger numbers that were set to enter his bank account thanks to the negotiated agreement he made with the studio for a 1.8% share of the gross income of the movie.
Since Titanic is ranked as the third biggest film of all-time, this could mean that the actual figure Leonardo earned from his involvement in the motion picture is far greater than his base salary — the 46-year-old could have made as much as $45 million.
His co-star, Kate Winslet, on the other hand, settled for $2 million to portray the role of Rose Dewitt Bukater, which still isn’t bad considering all the wonderful and high-earning projects she’s earned since then.
Speaking about the film’s success in an interview with Deadline back in 2016, the Los Angeles native gushed: “Titanic was very much an experiment for Kate Winslet and I.
“We’d done all of these independent movies. I loved her as an actress and she said, ‘Let’s do this together, we can do this.’ We did it, and it became something that we could’ve never foreseen.”
The film went on to shatter records across the globe, which Leonardo certainly didn’t expect, and while people continuously remind him of how enormously successful the movie has been, the actor says he never grasped the enormity of the flick when he first landed the part.
“People said, ‘Do you realize how big of a movie this is?’ I said, ‘Yeah, it’s big. It’s a big movie,'” said DiCaprio. “They’re like, ‘No. No. No, it’s the biggest movie ever,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, what does that mean?’”
He added: “I knew there was an expectation of me to do a certain thing at that point, and I knew I had to get back to what my intentions were from the onset.”
“I used [my fame] as a blessing, to make R-rated, different kinds of movies, to throw the dice a little bit on things I wanted to act in. People would want to finance those movies now. I’d never had that, before ‘Titanic.’”
After starring in a film as big as Titanic, Leonardo was able to command a salary of up to $20 million per movie, starting with 2000s The Beach, $10 million for Gangs of New York, and another $20 million for Catch Me If You Can and Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator.
The same salary was handed to him for The Departed and Blood Diamond while 2010’s Inception saw Leo once again negotiate a backend deal on top of his salary, which totaled to an incredible $60 million.
He made $10 million less when he starred in The Revenant in 2015 while working on Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 Once Upon A Time In Hollywood saw him pull in another $20 million.
This meant that since 1995, Leonardo has banked well over $300 million thanks to some amazing backend deals — or better yet, thanks to Titanic for putting him on a pedestal where commanding $20 million per motion picture didn’t sound absurd given how much star power Leo had after 1997.
Aside from all the money he’s made since Titanic, Leo remains the best of friends with Kate, who refused to boycott the Oscars in 2016 because she felt strongly about her pal finally earning his first Academy Award.
“I feel very strongly that it may possibly be Leo’s year. [H]e is my closest friend in the world and I just couldn’t imagine not being there to support him.”
To her delight, Leonardo ended up taking home the award for Best Actor at the annual awards ceremony. He’d previously been nominated five times but lost out in every single category.
The Los Angeles native currently has a few projects in the pipeline including Don’t Look Up, Killers of the Flower Moon, The Black Hand, and The Devil in the White City.