Spike Lee is an American film producer, writer, director and actor. Under his production company, “40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks”, Lee has produced over 35 movies, most of which center on controversial topics like socio-political issues, race, culture, poverty and violence. Spike Lee’s vast endeavors in Hollywood brings his net worth to an estimated $40 million.
Spike Lee Net Worth: How He Began
Shelton Jackson Lee was born on March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York. As a child, his mother gave him the nickname Spike which has since stuck. In Brooklyn, Spike attended John Dewey High School in the Gravesend neighborhood where he developed a strong passion for sports and aspired to become a baseball player.
However, during his college days at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Spike developed an affinity for theater and made his first student film in 1977 entitled “Last Hustle in Brooklyn”. He graduated from the prestigious black college with a B.A in Mass Communications. Spike also enrolled at Clark Atlanta University where he studied film courses.
With a passion for more knowledge about the film-making world, Spike proceeded to Tisch School of the Arts at New York University where he graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts in Film and Television. For his thesis, Spike produced the film “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads” in 1982 which received the coveted Student Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and also became the first ever student film to be showcased in Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films Festival.
Spike Lee Net Worth: Commercial/Box Office Successes
Inspired by the amazing success of his film, Spike looked to land contracts with major studios but none was forthcoming. As a result, he proceeded to independently finance his first feature film and founded his production company “40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks”. With a budget of $185,000, Spike shot the movie entitled “She’s Gotta Have It” in a fortnight, releasing it in 1986.
“She’s Gotta Have It” became one of the most lucrative movies of the year with a box office gross of over $7 million. It also snapped the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Spike then released his first major studio movie “School Daze” in 1988 which grossed over $14.5 million from a budget of $6.5 million. However, his next endeavor “Do The Right Thing” (1989) would become his breakthrough film, attracting much critical acclaim and achieving huge commercial success. The comedy-drama which Lee also starred grossed over $37 million from a $6 million budget. It also received an Academy nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
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His impressive track record soon opened the doors to lucrative contracts. Spike received $3 million to direct, the 1992 biopic of African-American activist Malcom X. He received much acclaim for the 1997 documentary “4 Little Girls” which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature Documentary.
His other popular movies include; “The Best Man” (1999), Love & Basketball (2000), 25th Hour (2002), and Inside Man (2006) starring one of his regular casts Denzel Washington.
Spike won The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 2013 which is one of America’s richest prizes worth $300,000. He was given an Academy Honorary Award in 2015.
Spike Lee Net Worth: Other Business Ventures
In addition to filmmaking, Spike Lee bolsters his exchequer with other ventures. His production company operates small clothing stores that sell merchandise with the 40-acre logo and have also collaborated with the likes of Brooklyn Denim, Nike and Ecko.
The company also has a New York-based advertising division called Spike DDB which produces commercials for high-end brands like Nike, Levi’s, Jaguar, Converse, Ben & Jerry’s, Taco Bell, and Lays. His most famous TV commercial was for the Nike Air Jordan brand alongside Michael Jordan.
Spike Lee Net Worth: Houses
Spike and his wife, attorney Tonya Lewis reside in a 9,000 square foot home in the exclusive Upper East zip code in Manhattan. Previously owned by one the Vanderbilts, Spike paid a reported $4.8 million for the three-story building back in 1998. In recent times, the building is estimated to have a value of not less than $50 million.
The filmmaker also owns a 4-bedroom vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard island, Massachusetts. He built the mansion from scratch on a property he bought for $400,000 in 1989.
His production company is headquartered in a 3-story building in his native Fort Greene, neighborhood in Brooklyn which he paid over $800,000 for in 1991.