The primary financial metric in box office gross. It is tracked daily, and particularly after the weekend. With the rise in COVID-19, box office figures are less visible Viewship has moved to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Theaters, for the most part, remain closes, and some have teetered close to bankruptcy. Major films have been delayed in most cases for many months. AT&T’s Warner has gone so far as to release first-run movies for streaming on HBOMax at the same time as in theaters, further disrupting the balance between studios and a distribution system that is a century old.
Box office numbers, and records, are usually tracked by individual movies. Some are inflation-adjusted to account for the change of the value of the dollars. The 50 Top Grossing Movies of All Time list is led by “Gone with the Wind” released in 1939 which is measured with a domestic gross in 2019 dollars of $2,971,442,929. In terms of all-time gross not adjusted for inflation, “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” released in 2015 has brought in $936,662,225.
Another cut at gross film revenue is based on which actors and actresses have been in films that have brought in the most dollars. It is a tricky calculation. Should it be measured by any film they appear in or only those in which they are major characters? That is a debate that will never be settled.
The “highest-grossing actors” on most such lists is Samuel L. Jackson. He does, however, become part of the debate, because he has rarely had top billing.
Although he is not the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, Samuel L. Jackson — whose 112-film-strong resume includes “Pulp Fiction” and “A Time to Kill” — is the only actor who can claim gross receipts greater than $10 billion thanks to his roles in film franchises that include “The Avengers” and “Star Wars.”
And, that is part of the crux of the debate. Why does the highest-grossing actor not earn the most money? “The Avengers” is a case in point. IMDb puts Jackson 11th on the list of stars, behind lead box office draws which include, among others, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson.
Mental Floss also puts Jackson in the top spot, just ahead of Robert Downey Jr. On its lists Jackson’s total box office gross figure at $7,106,460,118. The number is for domestic ticket sales and not worldwide. And, the number is very different from the one Yahoo! gives.
Cinema Blend does not put Jackson in first place. It puts him in second, behind Harrison Ford. Oddly, it does not supply a figure, which leaves the judgment in doubt.
Finally, IMDb is the most trusted source for data about films. It also puts Ford first and Jackson second. Since both actors are still alive–Ford is 78, and Jackson 72–the debate may not be over.