Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Net Worth Increased Dramatically Thanks to an Innovative Deal for ‘Twins’

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s net worth is reported to be a whopping $400 million. That comes from not only his blockbuster movies, but his bodybuilding career, endorsements, investments and time as California governor. The 1988 comedy Twins proved to be a turning point thanks to a clever deal he made with costar Danny DeVito and director Ivan Reitman. Schwarzenegger outlined his payment for Twins in his autobiography Total Recall: My Unbelievable True Story.  

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s net worth in movies already made ‘Twins’ expensive

In Twins, Julius (Schwarzenegger) and Vincent Benedict (DeVito) discover they are long lost twins. It practically writes itself!

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito on stage
L-R: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito | Franziska Krug/Getty Images

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“Being realistic and levelheaded about business enabled the three of us to add a little chapter to Hollywood business history,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “We knew that selling Twins in the usual way would be difficult. In theory, the studios would love the idea: you just had to picture me and Danny DeVito next to each other on a movie poster. But in reality, what we were proposing was an offbeat picture by three expensive guys.”

By then, Schwarzenegger was already the action hero of Commando, Predator and The Running Man. DeVito had done Ruthless People and Throw Mamma From the Train after Taxi ended. Reitman had directed Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Legal Eagles.

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“If each of us got paid his going rate, the budget would be so top-heavy that we thought no studio would touch it,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “And yet, none of us wanted to take a pay cut because working for less can hurt your negotiating power in future deals.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger accepted no salary for ‘Twins’

Twins would be a bit of a risk for Schwarzenegger. He was pretty much a sure thing in action movies, save for Raw Deal, but comedy was new. So, the trio accepted the risk, along with great rewards if it worked. It did. 

Twins: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito hug
L-R: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito | Universal/Getty Images

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The deal we ended up with guaranteed the three of us 37.5% of all the income for the movie. And that 37.5% was real, not subject to all the watering-down and bullsh*t tricks that movie accounting is famous for. We divvied up the 37.5 percent among ourselves proportionally based on what each of us had earned on his previous movie. Because I’d been paid a lot for The running Man, I ended up with the biggest slice, almost 20%. It made the math simple: if Twins was a decent-sized success and made, say $50 million, it would put almost $10 million in my pocket. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger: My Unbelievably True Story, page 363

‘Twins’ added over $40 million to his net worth and set a precedent

Twins ultimately made $216.6 million worldwide according to Box Office Mojo. That’s $111.9 million domestic and $104.7 million internationally. After theaters, the film continued to be a hit on video, cable and now on streaming VOD. Schwarzenegger’s up front asking price would go up to $25 million, and his Terminator 2 deal included a jet. Plus these box office points ended up part of a lot of A-lister movie deals. Universal head Tom Pollack foresaw the potential of Schwarzenegger’s deal.

Twins black and white still with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito
L-R: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito | Universal/Getty Images

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“Tom was so convince that the movie was going to be a hit that he said, ‘I’d rather give you the cash,’” Schwarzenegger wrote. “But by this time, Ivan, Danny and I had really gotten attached to our idea. ‘We don’t want cash,’ we said. ‘None of us is short of cash. Let’s all share the risk here.’”