Mark Wahlberg Lost $500,000 Starring in ‘The Fighter’

By all accounts, Mark Wahlberg’s The Fighter was a successful film. It more than made up its money at the box office and earned Christian Bale his first Oscar win. However, Wahlberg shared he actually lost more money starring in the critically acclaimed film than he’d earned.

Why the pro-boxers Mark Wahlberg faced in ‘The Fighter’ couldn’t get out of bed the next day

Mark Wahlberg smiling while wearing a grey sweater.
Mark Wahlberg | David M. Benett/Getty Images

As some may know, The Fighter is a biographical film following the life of boxing legend Micky Ward, who Wahlberg played. For Wahlberg, who also serves as the film’s producer, the film was years in the making.

“Everybody was into it, and that all starts from Mark, who’s been wanting to make this, been his passion project for years,” said Bale according to ABC Chicago. “Five years the guy’s been in the ring training. Sounds crazy but he got it done.”

In an interview with Yahoo, Wahlberg explained that he wanted to film the movie’s three major fights in the first three days of production. This was initially met with some pushback.

“Everyone thought [that] was impossible,” he said. “But [I had] years of training and preparation, and I basically convinced everyone that the way to do it is to just film it like they film any fight on HBO.”

Eventually, the Transformers star acquired the necessary equipment. But when it was time to film the bouts, he discovered he had better conditioning for the job than some pros.

“We did each fight 12 hours a day and thankfully I was in the condition I was because even the pro fighters that we had were not used to that. If you got a 12-round fight with a minute in between rounds, that’s not a long time. And you got eight weeks, 12 weeks of training camp, but you’re not doing it for 12 hours a day. And the next day they couldn’t get out of bed,” he explained.

Mark Wahlberg lost $500,000 starring in ‘The Fighter’

Starring in The Fighter was costly for Wahlberg. So much so he ended up spending more than he earned. Wahlberg wanted the film to distinguish itself from other boxing movies. To do that required a level of authenticity that other films like it might not have had.

“There are many, many boxing movies, and I love most of them. But I knew that the thing that would set us apart was if the fights looked more real, and I looked more like a boxer than anyone else who’s done it in the past,” he told Sports Illustrated (via Contact Music).

But to achieve this authenticity required a large number of funds.

“I spent more money paying my trainers and having them travel with me than I got paid, by a good half a million dollars,” he said.

It seems reasonable why Wahlberg didn’t seem too upset with losing so much money. Apart from The Fighter being a bonafide success, the actor is currently worth $300 million. The money he lost might have barely dented the megastar’s overall net worth.

Mark Wahlberg didn’t expect the movie to be as big as it was

Wahlberg had no idea the movie was going to reach the level of success that it did. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Wahlberg discussed how pleasantly surprised he was with the film’s performance.

“It was a miracle that we got the movie made, and it was a miracle that it didn’t go straight to DVD. I thought about that on the ride home [from the Oscars]. It was a good feeling, you know? Before we made the movie, I thought we could make a great movie,” he said. “But I still didn’t imagine it would go on to do all those things: to be that successful at the box office, winning those awards, getting all those nominations. So it definitely exceeded expectations.”

Wahlberg enjoyed the experience so much that he even considered making a sequel. He was already in the fighting shape to do so.

“I weigh about 185. But it’s still solid. Ready to throw down,” he continued. “I got bit by the bug, and now I’m trying to plant the idea in everyone’s head that we should do — not five or six Fighters like Rocky— but one more because the big thing that Micky Ward was famous for was his three epic battles with Arturo Gatti. So we’re talking about possibly taking one more run at it.”

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