In requesting full custody of her daughter and a "suitable amount" of child support, Katie Holmes's divorce from Tom Cruise is likely to bring in a nice chunk of change for the 33-year old actress who has already managed to have a number of non-acting, side projects.
For her level of personal stardom, Holmes, whose net worth is estimated at around $25 million, has never gotten close to her earning potential, according to Michelle Lee, Hollywood.com's senior vice president of content. That's not much compared with say, Cameron Diaz who earned $34 million last year alone.
"Don't get me wrong. A net worth of $25 million is not small potatoes," Lee said. "But when you compare to Tom's earnings, it's nowhere close."
Cruise, 49, brought in $75 million just last year, according to Forbes, with earnings from "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" and as a producer and a studio executive.
"Other stars have been able to structure better deals for themselves, getting a share or profits, for example," Lee said. "She's an actress who had so much potential at first--fans were really hopeful that she would turn into a great actress. But I think her marriage really hurt her career. It seemed like directors and producers started to get a little scared of hiring her for projects because they didn't want their project being overshadowed by the spectacle."
In asking for a "suitable amount" from Cruise in her divorce filing, Holmes is likely hoping to maintain a celebrity lifestyle of shopping and travel, though she certainly has enough cash of her own to live very well even by Hollywood standards.
"I'm speculating that her spending habits probably changed when she married Tom," said Danielle Mayoras, co-author of the book "Trial and Heirs" about celebrity estates, "so she's obviously asking the court to maintain that suitable lifestyle."
The couple's properties include homes in Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Montecito, Calif., New York, and Colorado, according to Zillow.
With Cruise's earnings, Mayoras said it is likely that he has been the "breadwinner" during their five-year marriage. They were last photographed together over Father's Day weekend in Iceland where he is shooting a film.
"I would hope that she's done smart financial planning," Mayoras said. "We know they travel a lot and we always see them on the red carpet. I would hope she was putting away her own money and not depending on Tom's money. It's hard to say."
After six successful years on television's "Dawson's Creek," which ended in 2003, Holmes focused on smaller films, like the critically acclaimed 2003's "Pieces of April," which brought in $2.4 million domestically and 2005's "Thank You For Smoking," which had $24.8 million according to Baseline, a movie research database. Those films "weren't huge box office blockbusters but really helped to build her acting credibility," Lee said.
"It was a smart move for her at the time," she said. "People in the industry can look down on actors who starred in so-called 'teen shows,' so she really needed to go that route."
Holmes reportedly made $175,000 per episode for Dawson's Creek, according to IMDB.com and Baseline. According to those sources, she reportedly made $200,000 for "The Gift" (2000), $1 million for "Abandon" (2002), $500,000 for "Phone Booth" (2002), and $1 million for "Batman Begins" (2005).
Holmes has starred in bigger movies, but none were considered to be "Katie Holmes vehicles," Lee said.
Her biggest movies at the box office have been "Batman Begins" with Christian Bale, which brought in $205.3 million domestically in 2005 and "Jack and Jill" with Adam Sandler, which grossed $74.2 million domestically, according to Baseline.
Mayoras said it's possible she is earning something from royalties from previous roles, but that is likely financially "insignificant."
Around the time of "Batman Begins," Holmes' celebrity persona started to overshadow her acting persona, Lee said.
"When you saw her on the big-screen, she wasn't Rachel Dawes," Lee said, referring to Holmes' character in the Batman film. "She was Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise's wife—and because of their personal beliefs, how they acted in public, etc., that turned some audiences off. And ultimately hurt her bottom line."
Unlike Cruise, Holmes didn't have the years of built-up film credibility.
"Even though Tom went through a rough patch when audiences were turned off from him, people still respect him as a movie star," Lee said. "The last 'Mission Impossible' proved that. The man is a total movie star. The camera loves him and there's really no one else like him in the world."
Among some of Holmes' box office disappointments were 2010's "The Romantics" alongside Anna Paquin and Josh Duhamel, which earned just $103,280 domestically, according to Baseline. The comedy, "Mad Money" with Queen Latifah and Diane Keaton, earned $20.7 million in 2008.