With 'Luck,' Lohan Tries to Justify a $7.5 Million Payday

If you thought Lindsay Lohan was growing up fast when she changed bodies with her mother in "Freaky Friday," you should consider the fast track that she's on now, with her salary ballooning from $1 million to $7.5 million in two years.

With her payday in "Just My Luck," a romantic comedy that opens Friday, the 19-year-old has vaulted to the top of the pay scale for young actresses, like Jessica Alba and Mandy Moore, who've been scoring paydays in the $2 million range.

Now Lohan must prove she can fill seats and attract an adult audience -- and that may not be so easy, especially after being embroiled in constant controversy over the last few years.

"The problem with pop culture divas is that they don't always translate to the big screen," said star-tracking columnist Tom O'Neil of TheEnvelope Web site. "The Olsen twins did well on video, but they bombed in the box office. Britney [Spears] and Paris [Hilton] didn't have much luck either when it came to breaking into movies."

Unlike them, however, Lohan was a movie star before she became a club-hopping socialite. She proved her appeal in a string of Disney films, beginning with 1998's "Parent Trap," and scored breakout hits in 2003 and 2004 with "Freaky Friday" and "Mean Girls."

Lohan Approaches Aniston Levels

To put Lohan's new earning power in perspective, the Hollywood Reporter lists Julia Roberts as the highest-paid actress, making $20 million a film, followed by Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore and Renee Zellweger, who range at $15 million or more.

Lohan is now approaching the level of Jennifer Aniston and Charlize Theron, who earn in the $9 million to $10 million range, and rank at the bottom of Hollywood Reporter's Top 10.

Unlike those actresses, however, Lohan built her following as a teen queen, and her following might not be the target audience of the films she plans to make in the years to come.

Moreover, the parents who took their kids to her movies might be less willing to support her work in light of the ongoing media circus that surrounds her life.

In recent months, she's become a tabloid sensation, after a string of car crashes, rumors of an eating disorder, a sordid love life, and hospitalization for exhaustion.

With last summer's "Herbie Fully Loaded" -- a Disney film that grossed $141 million worldwide -- Lohan essentially said goodbye to teen films, and set her sights on becoming an adult actress.

In "Just My Luck," Lohan is a fast-rising New York public relations hotshot, who leads a blessed life. When she kisses a down-and-out guy played by Jake Hardin, she suddenly loses her Midas touch.

A bigger test is likely to come with her supporting role in "A Prairie Home Companion," a Robert Altman film based on Garrison Keillor's radio show.

"'Lovebug' ['Fully Loaded'] delivered solidly," O'Neil said. "But if she turns her life into too much of a tabloid joke, she stands the risk of getting ghettoized real fast."

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