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Timothee Chalamet, Glen Powell Get Salary Boost After Box Office Hits

In the run-up to the release of last December’s “Wonka,” Timothée Chalamet made a surprise visit to New York’s Hudson Yards for a screening of the fantasy musical for kids enrolled in After-School All-Stars. With the holiday season in full swing, the 28-year-old actor handed out gift bags filled with Xboxes, Nikes and, naturally, chocolate bars. It was a plan he concocted on his own and was followed by similar events, such as a January visit to a Minnesota high school, where he took selfies with students from the drama program.

“He took every kid’s hand who came. He took a photograph with everybody who asked him, which was pretty much everyone,” recalls “Wonka” producer David Heyman. “That was about his heart. But he’s also very savvy about marketing. He gets very engaged and brings ideas to the table.”

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Chalamet is that rare performer who appeals to audiences of all ages. And over the past year, his marketing efforts translated into hits like “Wonka” ($625 million) and “Dune: Part Two” ($369 million and counting). Those ticket sales have studios hoping they’re experiencing the emergence of a bona-fide leading man — which would be a boon, given that the industry hasn’t fostered the kind of next-gen male movie star who could follow in the footsteps of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Cruise. But Chalamet and Glen Powell of “Anyone but You” have emerged as the two actors who could fill that chasm. Though Tom Holland’s asking price has leaped considerably after the undeniable smash of 2021’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the 27-year-old has yet to consistently prove himself as a draw outside of playing Peter Parker.

“What else is out there?” asks analyst Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations. “You’ve got Glen Powell and Chalamet ushering in a new talent base of bankable stars. That’s wonderful for audiences, but even more so, a massive relief for the industry, which has been relying on aging talent for far too long.”

Chalamet already gets to cash in on the box office riches he spun from visiting Arrakis and a world of pure imagination. The actor earned more than $8 million for “Wonka,” according to sources. Now, he’s getting a salary bump and looking at paydays in the double digits for leading roles in studio films. Warner Bros. and Legendary don’t have a contract yet for “Dune: Part Three,” but director Denis Villeneuve has been vocal about wanting to make it, so Chalamet’s salary could surge for future installments after the success of the sequel.

“We can count on one or two hands, in any age range, the people who are legitimate movie stars,” says “Dune” producer Mary Parent. “Timothée is absolutely that.”

Tmothee Chalamet Wonka Glen Powell Anything But You
The box office success of “Wonka” and “Anyone but You” proves Timothée Chalamet and Glen Powell’s leading-man potential.

Chalamet, who Heyman says was mentored as a newcomer by DiCaprio and Joaquin Phoenix, first made a splash with critically acclaimed indies like “Call Me by Your Name” and “Lady Bird,” which paved the way for the commercial triumphs of “Wonka” and “Dune: Part Two.” Of course, those movies had the benefit of brand recognition. “Wonka” is based on Roald Dahl’s beloved “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which has been adapted into two movies, one starring Gene Wilder and the other with Johnny Depp. And in “Dune,” based on Frank Herbert’s classic novel, Chalamet was surrounded by famous faces (Zendaya, Austin Butler and Florence Pugh). Still, the recent misfires from DC Comics and Marvel demonstrate that even well-known IP isn’t everything these days. “Wonka” and “Dune” needed some kind of special ingredient to get audiences to buy a ticket.

“I can’t imagine any other actor on the planet who could have played Willy Wonka and have the success that ‘Wonka’ had,” says Josh Goldstine, Warner Bros. president of worldwide marketing, who led the campaigns for “Wonka” and “Dune.” “You need everything to work in today’s world. IP alone is not sufficient.”

In that sense, it’s impressive that Powell, 35, pulled off his box office feat without any pre-branded intellectual property. Sony’s “Anyone but You,” which opened a week after “Wonka,” earned $212 million worldwide off a $25 million budget. It’s the highest-grossing R-rated romantic comedy in eight years. Since Powell has yet to headline a major franchise, his quote is less than Chalamet’s, with knowledgeable sources putting it north of $5 million. But that is poised to skyrocket as he negotiates for future films, including an “Anyone but You” sequel and “Top Gun 3.” Studio executives believe that Powell’s profile has also risen because his movies have largely debuted in cinemas and not on streaming.

“Glen is the classic example of talent meeting opportunity,” says Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony’s Motion Picture Group. “This is what theatrical hits do that streaming movies just don’t: give great actors a chance to make real cultural impact. Glen is a truly charismatic screen presence.”

And these rising A-listers are willing to put in the work. Goldstine says Chalamet’s commitment to being in the promotional trenches makes the actor a dream for marketing executives. “He wants to win, he knows how to win and he asks the right questions,” says Goldstine. “He respects and cares about his fans. He feels a responsibility toward them.”

Chalamet, who boasts 19 million Instagram followers, has amassed a following without looking like the conventional leading man, in the vein of Depp in his early years.

“He’s cool, but not in a threatening way,” says Heyman. “You know, he’s not too cool for school.”

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