By Gaius Bolling (@g_reelz)
Last week, actress Bryce Dallas Howard revealed that the pay gap between herself and Chris Pratt was much bigger than reported back in 2018. Howard’s pay gap reveal caused a bit of a division on film Twitter as many began to debate who was more a viable box office component when they signed on for the trilogy in 2014. Both sides made compelling points but, after scanning their filmographies prior to Jurassic World, I came out thinking that Bryce Dallas Howard actually had a leg up heading into negotiations.
All of this is sparked by reports that first surfaced in 2018, via Variety, that Bryce Dallas Howard was making $8 million to Chris Pratt’s $10 million for their work on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. During a more recent interview with Insider, Bryce Dallas Howard clarified that she was actually paid “so much less’ for the Jurassic World sequels compared to Pratt. While she didn’t reveal an exact dollar amount, she did indicate that she was at a disadvantage when she began negotiations for the trilogy back in 2014:
“The reports were so interesting because I was paid so much less than reports even said, so much less. When I started negotiating for Jurassic, it was 2014 and it was a different world, and I was at a great disadvantage. And, unfortunately, you have to sign up for three movies and so your deals are set.”
Howard did reveal that, to Chris Pratt’s credit, the actor worked hard to fix the situation by ensuring she had pay parity on other Jurassic World properties such as theme park rides, video games, and any other potential spinoffs. Howard said, “What I will say is that Chris and I have discussed it, and whenever there was an opportunity to move the needle on stuff that hadn’t already been negotiated, like a game or a ride, he literally told me, ‘You guys don’t even have to do anything. I’m gonna do all the negotiating. We’re gonna be paid the same and you have to think about this, Bryce.'”
It’s a very noble gesture on Chris Pratt’s part to be there for his co-star and try to make sure she was treated fairly in other ways but once this story broke, a lot of people began debating about the justification of it being a surprise that Bryce Dallas Howard was paid less. Some pointed to her being a woman that this is unfortunatley the norm in comparison to male co-stars while others were a bit more pointed. It was clear that many believed Chris Pratt was more popular or a bigger box office star at the time so his more lucrative deal was to be expected. I even bought into this until I did a little bit digging into both of their careers at the time.
Prior to Jurassic World, Chris Pratt was in Guardians of the Galaxy which was a massive hit for the MCU. No question about it. This film completely changed the trajectory of Chris Pratt’s career. Before Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt provided his voice for The Lego Movie and he appeared in Delivery Man, Her, Movie 43, and Zero Dark Thirty. Chris Pratt wasn’t the start of these films and on The Lego Movie and Zero Dark Thirty found significant box office success. Chris Pratt was more on a TV success, thanks to Parks and Recreation but before Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy was his one film that moved the needle at the box office.
Looking at Bryce Dallas Howard’s pre-Jurassic World filmography, she appears in 50/50, The Help, Hereafter, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Terminator Salvation, Spider-Man 3, Lady in the Water and The Village. These films comes out between 2004-2011 and while all of them weren’t massively successful, some of them definitely made a dent at the box office. In the case of The Help, that film saw box office success and massive awards attention. I will take the argument that she wasn’t the star of all of these movies and their success weren’t riding on her name alone, but she definitely appears to have a more significant film presence when compared to Chris Pratt. She’s definitely deserving of more than she was probably offered.
I guess my main gripe is that I don’t think we should act like she was slumming it and wasn’t on his level. A Marvel hit is significant, but film Twitter almost seemed to try to rewrite history and make it seem like Chris Pratt was this huge box office draw before signing on for Jurassic World and he simply wasn’t. Post Jurassic World? I would say he certainly was, as reflected by some of his films after the release of that first movie, but I’d argue they were on a much more equal playing field than some would want to admit.