Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, both of whom make the list of the highest grossing Hollywood stars never to have made a sequel, debuted at the top of the box office this weekend with 2 Guns, which delivered a decent $27 million for the $61 million film (that is apparently slightly below expectations, but it’s also in line with Denzel’s recent history of opening weekends). I love Denzel, as I made clear here, and part of the reason I like him so much is that he doesn’t sell out to franchises. He makes Denzel movies (as opposed to Wahlberg, who I also like, but who has tried, to no avail, to make franchises in Max Payne, the Planet of the Apes reboot).
Wahlberg, in fact, won’t be on this list much longer, now that Ted 2 has been greenlit, and now that he’s agreed to be in Transformers 4, double disqualifying him. But for now, he still hasn’t made a sequel, believe it or not. It’s difficult, in fact, to find big box office stars without sequels on their resume; number ten on this list is actually number 138th on the overall box-office list, as ensemble films like the Oceans movies, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Night at the Museum, or one of the many superhero movies have disqualified the first 101 people on the highest box-office grossing actors. I also didn’t include voice roles or cameos in the calculation, while I did disqualify two who would’ve otherwise made the list — Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci — because they not only have sequels coming out very soon (Catching Fire) but because the original installment in those franchises are the only reason they are on the list. I didn’t really want to because it’s not the kind of cash-in sequel that made him a box-office star, but I also disqualified Jack Nicholson, too, for the Two Jakes.
Here are the 10 highest grossing box office stars who do not include a sequel in their filmography (although, in most cases, reboots, remakes, and adaptations figure heavily in their box-office tallies).
(Update: As a couple people who kind of miss the point of the list — which is to say, it’s about actors who have amassed box-office tallies because of sequels — have pointed out, Leo was actually in Critters 3. However, that never had a theatrical release, and thus does not count in his box-office tally, and for the purposes/point of this list, it is not included. But yes! You are right. He was in Critters 3. You win the Internet, you incredibly smart person, you.)
1. Leonardo DiCaprio — $2.2 billion
2. Denzel Washington — $2.08 billion
3. Mark Wahlberg— $1.86 (soon to be disqualified by Ted 2 and Transformers 4)
3. Alec Baldwin — $1.78 billion
5. Meryl Streep — $1.76 billion
6. Kevin Costner — $1.73 billion
7. Ben Affleck — $1.65 billion
8. Russell Crowe — $1.55 billion
9. Jamie Foxx — $1.54 billion (will soon be disqualified by The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
10. Richard Gere — $1.37 billion