The summer blockbuster has become an American tradition since the 1970s, when films such as “Jaws” and “Star Wars” were released, and studios and distributors plan their annual marketing strategy accordingly. The COVID-19 pandemic closed most theaters in 2020, causing key releases to be postponed, but many movie showcases have now reopened and Hollywood is closely eyeing box office numbers.
What stars most reliably bring audiences to the movies? To find out, 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the top 100 stars in leading roles in terms of their domestic box office performance. The list, current as of July 2021, is based on data from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services, and IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon.
Actors were ranked based on the total domestic ticket sales for all movies in which they were billed as the lead actor on IMDb. (Average IMDb ratings were calculated from the IMDb user ratings for all movies for which an actor received the lead film credit.)
Industry observers have been encouraged by the performance of “Free Guy,” a sci-fi comedy starring Ryan Reynolds that opened recently. It took in more than $28 million at North American theaters over its first weekend, and earned another $22.5 million overseas. Reynolds is on our list, at No. 38 with ticket receipts totaling $1.3 billion. “Free Guy” might raise his ranking next time around.
No. 1 on our list, perhaps not surprisingly, is the even-popular Tom Hanks, whose career domestic ticket sales in lead roles total a whopping $4.6 billion. He’s followed closely by Robert Downey Jr., with a total of $4.3 billion. Coincidentally, both had their highest grossing films in 2019 — “Toy Story 4” and “Avengers: Endgame,” respectively. (These are the actors that have made Hollywood the most money.)
Click here to see the 100 stars whose movies have performed best at the box office
The highest ranked female actor is Sandra Bullock, at No. 17 with a career domestic ticket sales in lead roles of $1.9 billion. The next woman on our list doesn’t come until No. 27 — Jennifer Lawrence, at $1.7 billion. (These are Jennifer Lawrence’s biggest movies, ranked.)
This strongly suggests that Hollywood could do a better job when it comes to roles for women.