Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio — few actors are more recognized, respected, and valued. Despite colossal changes to the film industry — the democratization of film production and distribution have made it so talented individuals with just a camera phone can become celebrities overnight — there is an elite cadre of actors that guarantee a film’s success, or so studio executives hope.
It is not entirely clear what determines an actor’s bankability. Just looking at an actor’s average box office per film, for example, places the stars of recent franchise hits at the top of the list. While Daisy Ridley’s performance in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” received praise from critics, the film’s box office success was likely more due to the popularity of the previous films in the franchise than its cast. According to film data service The Numbers, 25% of a film’s box office is attributable to its creative talent.
To determine the 25 most bankable actors, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed the average box office per film of more than 7,000 actors with data from the Internet Movie Database. Rankings are based solely on gross box office, and do not consider salary, profit, or other data related to a film’s budget. To ensure that actors had a proven track record of box office successes, actors with fewer than five unique lead acting credits — not including sequels to their own movies — were excluded from consideration.
To separate the bankability of a franchise from that of its star, actors were also excluded from consideration if 25% or more of their lead acting credits were in sequels to their own movies. Certain action film stars that have achieved mainstream success outside of their franchise films, such as Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Lawrence, and Chris Evans, were excluded as a result.