As with the list of the Top 10 Actors at the Box Office 2015, this was meant to be posted back in September, but with some unexpected box office successes this year it seemed prudent to wait to see if these successes had any effect on the list as a whole. As it turned out, there were quite a few changes to the list from last year, with only Kathy Bates not returning, but several of the other actresses in the list ended up leap-frogging all over the place. So much so, in fact, that it’ll be even more interesting to see who’s on the list next year – and where.
NOTE: HGM stands for Highest Grossing Movie, and the figures represent the worldwide gross. And all figures are courtesy of boxofficemojo.com.
10 – Sigourney Weaver / HGM: Avatar (2009) – $2,787,965,087
Down three from last year, Weaver maintains her hold on the Top 10 by virtue of being in the biggest movie at the box office ever, but her choices since then seem to have been entirely personal ones and not with a view to achieving further box office success. Without another potential blockbuster on the horizon until Avatar 2 hits our screens, it’s entirely likely that this time next year, Weaver will be absent from the list.
9 – Anne Hathaway / HGM: The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $1,084,939,099
Moving up the list from last year’s number ten, Hathaway has increased her earnings power by a further association with Christopher Nolan in Interstellar (2014), but it’s her appearance in The Dark Knight Rises that keeps her firmly in the Top 10. And if she continues to make the kind of canny choice that The Intern (2015) has turned out to be, then there’s no reason why she shouldn’t move even further up the list.
8 – Elizabeth Banks / HGM: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) – $865,011,746
The only newcomer to this year’s list, Banks is here purely because of her role in the Hunger Games series; before 2012 she had very little chance of appearing on this list at all. In between the big-scale shenanigans involving Katniss Everdeen she makes small-scale movies that don’t always perform that well – The Details (2011), Little Accidents (2015) – but her increased involvement in the Pitch Perfect movies may keep her in the list for a while longer.
7 – Sandra Bullock / HGM: Minions (2015) – $1,157,197,402
No change in the list for Bullock but her involvement with those little yellow henchmen has meant a change in HGM from last year’s Gravity (2013). That aside, her place in the list is curious due to the perceived lack of real box office success that she’s had throughout her career, but the truth is she’s made some very smart choices over the years, from Miss Congeniality (2000) to The Heat (2013), and continues to be a solid, dependable draw at the box office.
6 – Scarlett Johansson / HGM: The Avengers (2012) – $1,519,557,910
Up three places from last year, Johansson’s climb can be attributed entirely to her appearances as a certain black leather-clad assassin. Her continued presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be assured, so there’s no reason for her to continue to climb the list over the next few years… unless she herself decides to retire from the franchise, or Marvel begins to experience difficulties at the box office (unlikely, yes, but you never know).
5 – Julia Roberts / HGM: Pretty Woman (1990) – $463,406,268
Roberts drops down two places as her recent choices continue to perform merely to expectation (though incredibly, Mirror Mirror (2012) bucked the trend). The actress is likely to drop down even further by this time next year, but it’s not something she’s ever going to worry about. That said, she still makes interesting choices when it comes to the movies she makes, so there’s always the possibility she’ll pick another major box office winner at some point in the future.
4 – Emma Watson / HGM: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) – $1,341,511,219
A drop of two places for Watson from last year is unsurprising given that the movies she’s made post-Potter have been either under-performers – My Week With Marilyn (2011), The Bling Ring (2013) – or surprisingly successful – Noah (2014). With only a small handful of projects lined up between now and the live action Beauty and the Beast (not due until 2017), Watson is likely to slip further down the list as the years pass.
3 – Helena Bonham Carter / HGM: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) – $1,341,511,219
Carter jumps up one place from last year, her appearance in Cinderella (2015) having given her the boost that Emma Watson needed. By rights though, she should be further down the list though rather than creeping up it, but thanks to Roberts and Watson’s lack of box office results, she finds herself in a better position than expected. But with only Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) to come in the next year (so far), it’ll have to do just as well as its predecessor to keep Carter this high in the list.
2 – Cate Blanchett / HGM: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – $1,119,929,521
Up three places from last year, Blanchett continues to be the one actress whose career choices continue to amaze and astound, from her return to Middle Earth as Galadriel (the main reason for her leap into second place), to appearances in movies as diverse as Blue Jasmine (2013) and How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014). With such a mercurial career paying out such continually high dividends, Blanchett may well find herself sitting at the top of the tree, if not next year, then maybe in 2017.
1 – Cameron Diaz / HGM: Shrek 2 (2004) – $919,838,758
Still at the top of the list thanks to her role as Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise, Diaz continues to be a popular draw at the box office, though she’s not really had a big success since Bad Teacher (2011). Whether or not she remains in the top spot will depend on any upcoming projects (and there aren’t any in the pipeline at present), but when they do, they’ll need to make some serious money at the box office to keep her sitting pretty at the top of the list.