Nicolas Cage was paid 20 million dollars for playing Superman, even though he never played Superman.
As one of the many potential fifth installments in the Superman series, Superman Lives began in 1996 when Kevin Smith pitched a story outline. Producer Jon Peters had some pretty strange ideas in mind though. He wanted Superman to wear an all black suit, not fly, and fight a giant spider. Peters also wanted Lex Luthor to have a space dog, because “[Chewbacca is] cuddly, man. You could make a toy out of him, so you’ve got to give me a dog.”
His love of Star Wars produced another idea, of a character he called “a gay R2-D2 with attitude.” Needless to say, the movie wasn’t in great shape from the start. After numerous casting selection changes, Nicolas Cage was picked to be Superman. Cage signed on with a 20 million dollar “pay or play” contract, basically meaning he would be paid regardless. Tim Burton was signed to direct on a similar deal, with only 5 million instead.
Cage felt he could “re-conceive the character,” and Peters thought Cage could “convince the audiences he came from outer space.” Even Tim Burton chimed in saying Cage playing Superman would be “the first time you would believe that nobody could recognize Clark Kent as Superman.” The project was riddled with problems, and in 2000, Nicolas Cage dropped out, taking 20 million dollars with him. Amazing how much someone can be paid to do nothing, isn’t it?