Halle Berry: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com
Josh Young
April 04, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

For actors, it seems Oscars really are made of gold. Sure, Steven Spielberg once paid $607,500 for Clark Gable’s ”It Happened One Night” statue (which he returned to the Academy) — but the prize can be worth considerably more in financial and creative rewards, especially for first-time recipients like Halle Berry, Jennifer Connelly, and Jim Broadbent. ”Winning an Oscar attracts the attention of directors and other actors and creates a boost in salary, particularly for someone like Halle Berry,” explains producer Marc Platt, ex?production prez at Universal. ”For an established star like Denzel Washington, the benefits are less tangible.”

By the time he saluted Sidney Poitier at the podium, Washington was already on the A list. A 1989 supporting actor winner for ”Glory,” the 47-year-old joined the $20 million club weeks before Oscar night (for the upcoming thriller ”Out of Time”) — thanks largely to headlining three straight films (”Remember the Titans,” ”Training Day,” and ”John Q.”) that grossed at least $20 million on opening weekend.

Berry’s groundbreaking win, however, is another story. ”Monster’s Ball” saw a 32 percent box office bump in its post-Oscar weekend (the low-budget indie has grossed $23 million) and Berry, 33, may be headed for a similar pay raise. Sources say she snagged a career-high $4 million for the upcoming James Bond film ”Die Another Day.” And one studio production head says she could command $6 million to $8 million for the right vehicle. That’s in line with the $7 million Angelina Jolie got for ”Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.”

While Berry will follow ”Die” with ”X-Men 2,” for which her salary was set when negotiating the 2000 original, the actress plans to mix such big-budget fare with grittier films like ”Ball.” ”The Oscar is not the end of the road or the beginning — it’s just part of her journey toward becoming an international movie star,” says her manager, Vincent Cirrincione, adding that she will have only so many cracks at the brass ring. ”A man can have a lot of failures and still be up there, but a woman — white or black — doesn’t have as many chances.”

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