Special Report

The Most Bankable Actors of the 21st Century

Casting movies is a complicated process. Casting directors are generally in charge of filling out the cast for a film, though writers and directors may have an idea about who could best play a role. Sometimes producers or the financiers of the movie may demand to choose the lead actors — and their choice is often based on bankability.

The last few years in Hollywood may be characterized as the age of record-breaking superhero blockbusters. A small group of actors have been cast in these massive productions and are now among the box office greats. But there is a bigger group of actors who don’t necessarily star in franchise movies but still draw the most people to theaters.

To determine the 40 most bankable actors of the 21st century, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on average box office for roughly 8,000 actors. Actors were ranked based on the average domestic box office per film in which they received the lead star credit, according to credit data from the Internet Movie Database. Animated films, sequels, and franchise films were excluded from the average box office calculation. 

Nine of the most bankable actors on this list are women, one of them only recently retired. Almost half have been cast as the lead in at least three motion pictures over the last decade that have grossed more than $100 million in the U.S. alone.

The actors on the list are among the most popular names in the entertainment business right now. Their path to becoming one of the main reasons people pay for a ticket at a movie theater had to start somewhere — these are the movie roles that launched the careers of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Click here to see the most bankable actors of 21st century

To determine the most bankable actors, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on average box office for roughly 8,000 actors. Actors were ranked based on the average domestic box office per film in which they received the lead star credit, according to credit data from the Internet Movie Database. 

Animated films, sequels, and franchise films were excluded from the average box office calculation. 

Data on domestic box office came from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and film industry data site The Numbers. 

Only actors with at least five lead acting roles throughout their careers and who have starred in at least one movie that grossed at least $100 million since 2011 were considered. Actors were also excluded from consideration if more than half of their lead film roles were in sequels to their own movies. 

Only films with at least 25,000 reviews on IMDb were included in our analysis.