Since its first installment premiered on July 11, 2013, the Sharknado franchise has become practically invaluable to Syfy — but while the budget for each film has gotten bigger, the wage gap between female lead Tara Reid and her male costar Ian Ziering has reportedly remained the same.
This week’s issue of The Hollywood Reporter features an inside look at the surprise hit franchise in which it’s claimed that Reid — who starred in all four installments as well as the upcoming fifth, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming — makes about a quarter of what Ziering earns on each installment.
For Sharknado 5, THR reports that the budget was $3 million, double the cost of the original. Ziering, 53, who plays Fin Shepard, reportedly makes $500,000 per picture, which would mean Reid, 41, earns roughly $125,000.
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According to THR, when Reid protested the disparity during the filming of Sharknado 3, Syfy responded by launching the #AprilLives or #AprilDies social campaign, which asked fans whether or not to kill off her character. They voted to let her live.
“I think Sharknado cares more about their ‘extra of the day’ than they do about their own cast,” Reid tells THR. “You work at something for five years and you don’t get treated as well as someone who shows up for a single day?”
Syfy did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment on either claim.
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The feature also delves into how Reid was cast in the role of Fin’s ex-wife April. According to THR, Reid was cast after Teri Hatcher, Rebecca Romijn, Tiffani Thiessen and several others had already passed on the role. Still, she was considered a big get for the project at the time.
“Tara had a profile,” says Gerald Webb, an actor and casting director who worked on the first three films (and appeared in the second). “Syfy liked her.”
Sharknado 5: Global Swarming premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on Syfy.