10 Actresses With the Most Box Office Power
According to the box office money counter Box Office Mojo, here are the 10 actresses who have grossed the most money at the box office over the course of their entire careers. In an unfortunate example of how far women still have to go in the entertainment industry — and all other industries, really — the top 10 of Box Office Mojo’s rankings are made up completely of men. It took picking through the top 55 actors in total to come up with the 10 women who have helped Hollywood make the most money at the box office. Here are those box office-winning women.
10. Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway might be popular to hate, but people will pay to see her movies. Over the course of her career, Hathaway has made 21 movies that have grossed an average of $98.8 million each. Her highest-grossing movie is 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, in which she played the latest version of Batman’s nemesis Catwoman, which made $448.1 million during its run in theaters. In total, she’s made $2.075 billion at the box office. Hathaway comes in at No. 55 on the overall list, counting both men and women.
9. Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson’s involvement with Marvel portraying the female hero Black Widow hasn’t yet led to the standalone movie that fans and feminists have been calling for, but it has still helped her rake in the dough at the box office. Her highest-grossing movie is The Avengers, which made $623.4 million and is also the third-highest grossing movie of all time. Other top grossers for the actress include Iron Man 2 and the Captain America movies, in which she also plays the Black Widow character. Overall the actress has made a total of 33 films that gross an average of $63 million each, a slightly lower number than Anne Hathaway’s given her penchant for balancing blockbuster roles with smaller indie films. In total, Johansson has made $2.08 billion at the box office and comes in at No. 54 on Box Office Mojo’s list.
8. Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock’s highest-grossing film, the 2014 space odyssey Gravity, is also her most critically acclaimed. Bullock was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance as an astronaut stuck in space alone after a freak accident separates her from the rest of her research crew. Gravity made $274.1 million during its time in theaters. Bullock has won an Academy Award for The Blind Side, in which she played the staunch Republican mother figure of a talented young black football player. Bullock’s 33 films have on average grossed $64.2 million apiece, and in total, she’s made $2.119 billion at the box office during her career. Bullock comes in 48th on the complete list.
7. Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver is best known for playing tough characters in science fiction action films like Alien and Avatar. The latter is her highest-grossing movie, having pulled in $760.5 million, making it the highest-grossing movie of all time domestically. Overall, the actress has made 44 films with an average gross of $49.5 million apiece. In total, she’s made $2.179 billion at the box office and comes in just before Sandra Bullock at 47th place on Box Office Mojo’s ranking. With three more Avatar films on her plate, the 65-year-old Weaver stands to see her ranking rise in the coming years as her career fails to slow down as she ages.
6. Kathy Bates
Kathy Bates is having fun on television right now, having played a variety of characters (most recently a freak show’s bearded lady) on the anthology series American Horror Story. Despite a penchant for some eccentric roles, Bates is also a top earner. She’s raked in $2.248 billion at the box office over the course of her career, with her highest-grossing movie being 1997’s Titanic. While Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio get all the glory for playing the central romance in Titanic, Bates played Molly Brown, one of the only people who survived the shipwreck and who’s known for her heroic decision to turn around a lifeboat and search for survivors. Titanic made $658.7 million and for a time was the top-grossing picture of all time. Bates’s 43 films have made an average of $52.3 million each, and she comes in at 42nd on Box Office Mojo’s complete list.
5. Cate Blanchett
The Australian actress Cate Blanchett is known for being one of the most versatile and acclaimed actresses of our time. Blanchett has won two Academy Awards, most recently for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, and in 2005 for her take on Hollywood legend Katherine Hepburn in the Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator. Her involvement with Peter Jackson’s reinterpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit novels have boosted her status as a money maker as well, with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King being her top-grossing movie at $377.8 million. Blanchett’s 34 films have grossed an average of $68.5 million each, and in total, she’s brought in $2.33 billion at the box office throughout her career. She comes in at No. 39 on the complete ranking.
4. Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter might seem like a surprise choice to rank this high on the list, given her propensity for strange roles and the fact that Tim Burton’s partner/muse isn’t exactly a household name. But her involvement in the Harry Potter films as the psychopathic witch Bellatrix Lestrange and the Red Queen in Burton’s reboot of Alice in Wonderland put some box office heavyweights on her résumé. The second installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is her highest-grossing film, having made $381 million. The actress’s 32 movies have grossed an average of $79.3 million each, and in total, she’s pulled in $2.538 million at the box office during her career. Bonham Carter comes in at 23rd on the complete list.
3. Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts hasn’t been a top earner recently, but during the 1990s, she made herself one of the most bankable actresses of all time. Her highest-grossing film is Ocean’s Eleven, which made $183.4 million. Ocean’s Twelve, Erin Brockovich, Runaway Bride, and Notting Hill were all top earners for the star. Recently, she’s been tackling more serious fare, like last year’s drama August: Osage County and the acclaimed TV movie The Normal Heart. The actress’s 39 films have grossed an average of $67.7 million apiece, and in total, she’s made $2.641 billion at the box office. Roberts is 21st on Box Office Mojo’s ranking.
2. Emma Watson
The second highest-earning actress in Hollywood is the young British Harry Potter star Emma Watson. She starred as Harry Potter’s brainiac friend Hermione Granger throughout the film series, with her biggest-grossing film being Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. That movie made $381 million, but all eight of the Harry Potter films grossed well over $200 million. In addition, the comedy This Is the End and the Biblical epic Noah each made more than $100 million for the actress. In total, the 24-year-old Watson has made $2.681 billion at the box office across 14 films that grossed an average of $191.6 million each. The actress has also managed to stay out of the trouble that frequently plagues child stars, graduated from Brown University, and has spoken out on behalf of feminism. Watson comes in 19th place on Box Office Mojo’s list.
1. Cameron Diaz
The highest-earning actress in Hollywood is Cameron Diaz, who’s ranked 12th overall on the list from Box Office Mojo. Diaz’s highest-grossing acting gig has been her voice role as Princess Fiona in Shrek 2, which made $441.2 million. As for live-action films, the iconic raunchy comedy There’s Something About Mary made the most of the actress’s films, with $176 million. Diaz’s 33 films have grossed $89.3 million each on average, and she’s made a total of $2.945 billion at the box office during her career.
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS