Samuel Brace on the five highest-grossing movie stars not in a Star Wars or superhero movie…
Film’s landscape has changed dramatically over the years – as is to be expected. Gone is the age of the traditional American movie, the sweeping drama, the movie star led original tale that could drive audiences to cinemas just to get a glimpse of their face. We have since transitioned into the age of tent-poles; the franchise movie is now the dominant force at the box office, and leading the march are sub genres like the superhero movie, along with mega franchises like Star Wars. And all this got me thinking, just where are all the movie stars? Do they exist anymore? A train of thought that led to a little investigating into just who are the highest grossing movie stars in US domestic history that haven’t appeared in a superhero or Star Wars movie. Via a simple filter on Box Office Mojo, the results presented themselves. Let’s take a look at the top five.
5) Robin Williams
Coming in at number five is comedy superstar: the late Robin Williams. Before seeing the results of my search, his was a name that didn’t at first come to mind, but of course it makes all the sense in the world, the amount of movie magic this man managed to produce was indeed vast and rich.
With hits like Night at the Museum, Mrs Doubtfire, Aladdin, and Happy Feet making up his four highest grossing hits, and then sprinkling other fan favourite movies such as Good Will Hunting, Hook, and Jumanji, there truly is a great variety to his work. The fact that Williams ranks 15th when taking out our filter, speaks volumes about what a beloved figure he was.
Lifetime gross: $3,279,279,043
4) Johnny Depp
Now this is a man you might expect to see swimming around these waters; a verified movie star that by 2017 has been around for quite some time. And while it must be noted that four of his top five grossing films are Pirates of the Caribbean movies, he was certainly the main force behind those ticket sales, no matter your view of his work since taking on the role of Jack Sparrow.
And though it is true that many of Depp’s other ventures haven’t done all that well at the box office, even failing to recoup their budgets in some cases, the fact of the matter is that he is still mighty on high on this list, and with cult favourite films like Edward Scissorhands, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Ed Wood complementing his commercial victories, there’s no doubting the man’s impact as an actor.
Lifetime gross: $3,368,618,775
3) Tom Cruise
Perhaps the first name that comes to mind when one hears the term ‘movie star’, this actor has so far avoided the urge to jump into the world of superhero movies since their emergence, and has continued to drive audiences to theatres via his name alone.
One of the most recognisable names and faces on the planet, Cruise has helped to build franchises such as Mission: Impossible, while starring in one off ventures such as War of the Worlds, Top Gun, and Rain Man; all movies that brought in a significant amount of cash, propelling Cruise to number three on this list, and number eight over all.
Lifetime gross: $3,645,898,921
2) Eddie Murphy
Falling into the same category as Robin Williams, seeing Eddie Murphy on this list, above the likes of Cruise and Depp, may seem surprising before examining the man’s resume.
Of course, starring in franchises like Shrek doesn’t hurt, taking up four of his top five grossing movies (and tallying over $1 billion domestically). But with comedy hits like Beverly Hills Cop, Doctor Dolittle, and The Nutty Professor all under his belt, one can see just what a powerful force Murphy was during the 80s, 90s, and early 00s. It’s therefore no surprise to see Murphy as the highest grossing comic actor at the United States box office.
Lifetime gross: $3,811,107,808
1) Tom Hanks
Did you guess it? Hanks, not Cruise is our winner, and indeed the highest grossing actor not to appear in a Star Wars or superhero movie. Tom Hanks is of course a much beloved performer, an icon and staple of our entertainment lives for decades.
Padding out his impressive box office takings with franchises like Toy Story, and mega hit dramas like Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and Saving Private Ryan, Hanks’ resume reads more like you would expect from a traditional movie star. Climbing to number three in the all time list of grossing actors, only behind Harrison Ford and Samuel L Jackson, Hank’s filmography is as impressive as it comes. And with recent features like Sully, and Captain Phillips to his name, he is showing little sign of slowing down.
Lifetime gross: $4,519,571,447
So, what does this tell us? I for one was surprised at just how high some of these actors ranked, but at the same time a little depressed at how many of the list’s stars relied on multi film, multibillion dollar franchises to sustain them. But alas, we all know the state of cinema in 2017. There is some respite to be had when adjusting for inflation of course, making many of the above actor’s takings even more impressive.
And in case you were interested, here are the top 10 actors by box office gross without our self imposed filter:
1. Samuel L. Jackson – $5.072 billion (Star Wars, The Avengers)
2. Harrison Ford – $4.871 billion (Star Wars)
3. Tom Hanks – $4,.519 billion
4. Morgan Freeman – $4.511 billion (The Dark Knight Trilogy)
5. Robert Downey, Jr. – $3.947 billion (The Avengers)
6. Eddie Murphy – $3.811 billion
7. Scarlett Johansson – $3.652 billion (The Avengers)
8. Tom Cruise – $3.646 billion
9. Ian McKellen – $3.639 billion (X-Men)
10. Stanley Tucci – $3.613 billion (Captain America: The First Avenger)