We Know that Hollywood A-listers Are Worth Millions, but How Much Are They Worth to the Studios?

By on August 11, 2014 in ArticlesEntertainment

We can talk about how much Hollywood stars earn for themselves. We can talk about their outlandish housing, jet-setting, ridiculous car collections, and their taste for the gaudy. Clearly, the A, B, and even C- listers have done extraordinarily well for themselves, but what have they done for the studios? To make it that early in the alphabet, the people of the red carpet have put out quite a product, one that convinces the blockbuster-makers their $10s of millions per film are a fair working wage. For the stars to earn their consistent big bucks, just how much do their performances pull in for the the studios over the course of their careers?

The answer is a whole heckuva lot.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks /Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Tom Hanks, voice of Woody from Toy Story, the iconic young man playing the piano with his feet, and the stateless guy with an unintelligible accent, has grossed $4.26 billion dollars for the studios over the course of his three decade career. For anyone playing along at home, that's an average of $142 million a year for Hollywood-aggregate. That makes Hanks' net worth ($350 million) look like allowance money.

With a career just a few years longer, Morgan Freeman clocks in right behind Hanks at a staggering $4.14 billion in his career. Everyone's favorite narrator even helped bring in $77 million for the studios by talking about penguins for 80 minutes. If he talked for the entirety of the film (which he didn't), that'd be just under $1 million a minute for a movie that has no robots, no explosions, and no themes that would warrant parental discretion.

To think that a single person can be worth so much over the course of their career is a bit mind boggling, even with the likes of Freeman and Hanks topping the list -they've each been putting out films consistently since the 1980s.

What won't surprise you (but may very well make you angry) is that on the list of these top-grossing Hollywood-lifers, the first woman doesn't appear until #12. The good news is that she's got plenty of career left in her. Yes, films starring or featuring Cameron Diaz have grossed $2.94 billion dollars since she first danced onto the screen with Jim Carrey in 1994's The Mask.

While Hanks and Freeman are in the midst of the 30th and 34th years in the business respectively, Diaz may still be in her prime. Even with ten fewer years than Hanks, Diaz's career averages out to just about $147 million a year. Hey, if Sex Tape turns into a franchise, she may even do better than some of the eleven guys above her, and here's to it.

The only lady keeping Diaz company in the top twenty all-time box office-leading actors might not be who you think it is. I'll give you a hint, she's 24 years old. That makes her well more than a decade younger than anyone else up that high. Any ideas? Ok next hint: she's nearly killed Seth Rogen and James Franco on screen. Ringing any bells?

Turns out most of us would know her by her wand-wielding brownnoser of a character, Hermione Granger. At $2.68 billion over the course of her short, 13-year career, the #19 spot belongs to Emma Watson. The rest of her career might not be as magical for the studios as the Harry Potter Series, but she's off to a great start.

The list continues, with 244 Hollywood names earning $1 billion or more during the course of their career. Who's lucky number 244 you ask? At $1.001 billion over his total career, Joaquin Phoenix makes the cut. His top grossing film: M. Night Shyamalan's Signs. Keep swingin' Joaquin, you might just climb your way up the list a little bit further.

Articles Written by Simon Pollock
Simon Pollock is a freelance writer and Ultimate Frisbee player living in Baltimore, MD. He trains at and works for the Maryland Athletic Club, travels to coach and compete on the weekends, and when not writing for CNW, is a reporter and columnist for Ultiworld.com. Follow him on Google+.
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