Having looked at who makes up the Top 10 Actors at the Box Office, it’s time to see which ten actresses are the most popular with the cinema-going public. There are a couple of actresses you might not expect to see in the list, but with the preponderance of movie series’ that are out there, most shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
NOTE: HGM stands for Highest Grossing Movie, and the figures represent the worldwide gross. And all figures are courtesy of boxofficemojo.com.
10 – Anne Hathaway / HGM: The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $1,084,439,099
While you might not hear the phrase, “Let’s go see the new Anne Hathaway movie” very often, nevertheless she has made some good commercial choices over the years, from The Devil Wears Prada (2006) to Alice in Wonderland (2010), all the way to her Oscar winning performance in Les Misérables (2012). With a role in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Interstellar, and a return to Wonderland in 2016, her place on the list seems assured for some time to come.
9 – Scarlett Johansson / HGM: The Avengers (2012) – $1,518,594,910
Outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Johansson has made a number of movies that have performed well (if not spectacularly), and she’s often the best thing in them. With some canny choices behind her – The Prestige (2006), We Bought a Zoo (2011) – it will be interesting to see how her career develops, as, Black Widow aside, she doesn’t seem to gravitate to one particular kind of role. But with multiple trips to the Marvel well ahead of her, her place on this list is assured.
8 – Sandra Bullock / HGM: Gravity (2013) – $716,392,705
With a career that now spans over twenty years, and with a proven track record in both drama and comedy, it’s Bullock’s more recent forays into drama that have won her the most acclaim and industry kudos. She doesn’t always make the right choices – Gun Shy (2000), All About Steve (2009), a certain sequel that Keanu Reeves wisely side-stepped – but she has a loyal fan base that will probably keep her in the Top 10 for the foreseeable future, even though at present, the only movie she definitely has on the horizon is next year’s Minions.
7 – Sigourney Weaver / HGM: Avatar (2009) – $2,787,965,087
Weaver’s inclusion on this list is due mainly to her role in James Cameron’s epic, and the combined totals for the Alien series – even Alien Resurrection made over $161m – as, like Scarlett Johansson, she’s made a number of movies that have performed well enough at the box office but which aren’t as repeat-friendly as you might expect. Still, with three Avatar sequels in the pipeline, Weaver’s likely to be heading on up the list come 2017, but with a career that’s often been more about the material than the box office, it should be the other movies she makes that will be the more interesting to watch.
6 – Kathy Bates / HGM: Titanic (1997) – $2,186,772,302
Betcha didn’t see this actress being on the list anywhere! Cameron’s blockbuster aside, Bates has appeared in some well-received movies over the years, from Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) to About Schmidt (2002) to The Blind Side (2012), as well as her Oscar winning role in Misery (1990). She’s an actress you can rely on whatever the movie, and while she’s not a box office draw by herself, she’s definitely earned her place on the list (though how long she’ll remain here will probably be down to her fellow listees).
5 – Cate Blanchett / HGM: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – $1,119,929,521
Perhaps of all the actresses in the list, Blanchett has the best resumé, her movie choices over the years having proved that she has a keen eye for a good script. Even where a movie hasn’t quite worked out as its makers would have hoped – Bandits (2001), Robin Hood (2010) – she’s still been eminently watchable and, as in the wretchedly disappointing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), has risen above the constraints of the material. Her alliance with Peter Jackson and the realm of Middle Earth has certainly propelled her to this point in the list, so she’s another actress who won’t be dropping out anytime soon.
4 – Helena Bonham Carter / HGM: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) – $1,341,511,219
Your husband is a gifted, visionary filmmaker who regularly finds roles for you in his movies. Do you turn him down, afraid of cries of favouritism? Or do you take every opportunity he gives you, and so cement your place in the list of the top ten actresses at the box office? It’s a no-brainer really, but Carter’s place at number four does rely heavily on her work with Tim Burton and the latter entries in the Harry Potter saga. But even so she’s a remarkably talented actress who does some of her best work in movies that get very little exposure – Till Human Voices Wake Us (2002), Enid (2009) – and with a return trip to Wonderland fast approaching, she’s not moving from this list for some considerable time.
3 – Julia Roberts / HGM: Pretty Woman (1990) – $463,406,268
Is it really almost twenty-five years since Pretty Woman made an overnight star of Julia Roberts? (Well, yes of course it is.) One of the most consistently successful actresses of the last quarter century, she’s achieved her place on the list without the benefit of being part of a franchise (the first two Ocean’s movies are the nearest she’s come to being in a series), and by virtue of making some very astute choices; a case in point: Charlotte’s Web (2006) took over $144m. Despite a couple of missteps in recent years, she’s still an actress who commands attention, and with a role in the upcoming remake of The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), it seems she’s not about to slow down anytime soon.
2 – Emma Watson / HGM: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) – $1,341,511,219
The youngest member of the Top 10 owes her place to a certain bespectacled wizard, but with This Is the End (2013) and Noah (2014) both taking over $100m at the box office (and Noah considerably more), she seems to have secured her future (and put Hermione firmly behind her). Watson effectively has the world at her feet and it’ll be interesting to see if she continues to make as many interesting movies as she’s made in the last few years. Whatever happens, her place on the list is assured (and especially if J.K. Rowling bows to popular demand and comes up with Harry Potter: The Adult Years).
1 – Cameron Diaz / HGM: Shrek 2 (2004) – $919,838,758
Ruling the roost is an actress whose career has had its ups and downs in recent years, but even the critical duds have made money (The Green Hornet (2011) somehow made $227,817,248 – incredible). With the Shrek franchise, plus fourteen other movies that have broken the $100m barrier, Diaz is an A-lister who consistently brings in the audiences (especially when she’s starring in a comedy). With the remake of Annie due later this year, and a return to being a Bad Teacher also on the cards, Diaz’s mix of safe movies interspersed with more edgy fare looks set to continue to keep her in the top spot.