Canadian actor Luke Macfarlane recently visited Daniel Tosh's podcast Tosh Show and revealed some rather surprising news. Apparently, Hallmark pays better than Netflix for their holiday movies, although to be fair, so far Macfarlane has only starred in one Netflix Original, the 2021 movie Single All the Way.
When asked point-blank about the size of the Single All the Way paycheck vs. the ones he gets from Hallmark, Macfarlane said it was "smaller." He didn't specify how much the difference was, but the actor has done over 13 movies with Hallmark.
To be fair to Netflix, it's hard to compare definitively because Macfarlane has only done one movie for the streamer vs. the 10+ he's done for Hallmark. If he continued working for Netflix, it's possible that his paycheck would increase, which is what happens at Hallmark, too. Macfarlane says the Hallmark "rate goes up" when you do successive projects.
However, because of a deal he signed at Hallmark where he commits to "five Christmas movies or five movies," he cannot work for other network, especially for other "holiday-related movies."
The only reason he could do Single All the Way a few years ago is because it happened to fall outside his deal with Hallmark at the time. He recently starred in a Lifetime movie in 2023 called Amish Stud: The Eli Weaver Story, which must have also fallen outside of his Hallmark parameters.
Netflix vs. Hallmark and the residual payments
Additionally, the upside of working with Hallmark is the higher residuals. The 43-year-old said that the movies have to air a certain amount of time first before the residual checks begin rolling in.
"“It is a nice thing. They have to air a certain amount of time before you start getting [any money]. As you know, they air them a lot. So, if you end up doing one of the ones that hits and is popular, it gets aired more and more. So, you eventually get residuals.”"- Luke Macfarlane
We can't draw too many conclusions from Macfarlane's statement because, again, he's only acted in one Netflix movie vs. his 14 Hallmark films. We'd need to hear from more actors who have worked for both Netflix and Hallmark actors to make more accurate comparisons.
When it comes to residuals, we do know that Netflix pays them for originals, but given the recent SAG-AFTRA strike, we also know that the amount wasn't much. It sounds like Hallmark residuals add up more significantly in the long-run. We'll see how that changes thanks to the newly ratified deal with the AMPTP.
But I think it's worth mentioning just how often Hallmark retains actors. Look at Lacey Chabert, the reigning Hallmark queen. She's appeared in over 30 films for the network and racked up millions over the years. other actors who have consistently starred in many Hallmark films include Taylor Cole, Autumn Reeser, Andrew Walker, and more.
Netflix retains actors, too, though sometimes it's hard to say if it's for Netflix specifically or if Netflix just happens to purchase the distribution rights to an actor's project. But stars like Nina Dobrev, Camila Mendes, Noah Centineo, Adam Sandler, Millie Bobby Brown, and Ryan Reynolds have all appeared in multiple Netflix projects, which bodes well for the company, indicating they pay well enough for actors to stick around or the long-term/multi-project deals are lucrative enough to be worthwhile.
It'll be interesting to see how these payment structures and surrounding conversations shift in the coming years on the heels of the new SAG and WGA deals.