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The 50 Most Successful Box Office Stars of All Time in North America

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | October 27, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | October 27, 2011 |

As Joanna noted in today’s Pajiba Love, the Guinness Book of World Records anointed Sam Jackson the highest-grossing actor of all time earlier today. Jackson has made a butt-load of movies, but he’s also had the good fortune to land roles in incredibly successful franchises, sometimes as a major player (Star Wars), and other times as a key one (The Avengers) in the series. Can you imagine if only he had appeared in the Harry Potter movies, as well? He might just top the $1 trillion mark.

That Guinness Record, however, is for Worldwide box-office, which is cool and great and dandy, but in America, Sam Jackson ranks only eighth according to Box Office Mojo. The entire top 50 is posted below.

Naturally, inflation is not taken into account (because the math would be practically impossible without a math degree), which is why the list is comprised of modern movie stars. Also, it only include major movie stars, and not minor actors, because the contrarian in me did a little research thinking I might be able to debunk the Sam Jackson’s Guinness Book of World Records title with a minor actor who’d appeared in several franchise, and while I discovered that the likes of Christopher Lee and Warwick Davis would be very high on the worldwide list (by virtue of being in a couple of major franchises), they did not oust Sam Jackson. In either respect, they are not included among the top 50. With some of these folks, too, it’s not a matter of lots of roles, it’s a matter of the right roles. For instance Tim Allen, a terrible actor who was lucky enough to star in the hugely successful Toy Story franchise is 50th on the list, while. Leonardo DiCaprio has been in a slew of successful movies, but has never made a sequel.

50. Tim Allen ($1.76 billion)

49. Robert Downey, Jr. ($1.782 billion)

48. Keanu Reeves ($1.784 billion)

47. Alec Baldwin ($1.791 billion)

46. Elijah Wood ($1.792 billion)

45. Jack Nicholson ($1.795 billion)

44. Natalie Portman ($1.80 billion)

43. Leonardo DiCaprio ($1.81 billion)

42. Denzel Washington ($1.83 billion)

41. Liam Neeson ($1.87 billion)

40. Ewan McGregor ($1.878 billion)

39. Jon Voight ($1.95 billion)

38. Adam Sandler ($1.97 billion)

37. Antonio Banderas ($1.988 billion)

36. Ralph Fiennes ($1.995 billion)

35. Shia LaBeouf ($1.99 billion)

34. Ian McKellen ($2.009 billion)

33. Tommy Lee Jones ($2.027 billion)

32. Mel Gibson ($2.066 billion)

31.Kathy Bates ($2.104 billion)

30. Brad Pitt ($2.112 billion)

29. Dustin Hoffman ($2.131 billion)

28. Nicolas Cage ($2.153 billion)

27. Sigourney Weaver ($2.170 billion)

26. MIke Meyers ($2.221 billion)

25. Helena Bonham Carter ($2.219 billion)

24. Gary Oldman

23. Owen Wilson ($2.261 billion)

22, Michael Caine ($2.266 billion)

21, Ben Stiller ($2.288 billion)

20. Orlando Bloom ($2.289 billion)

19. John Travolta ($2.351 billion)

18. Daniel Radcliffe ($2.388 billion)

17. Rupert Grint ($2.389 billion)

16. Matt Damon ($2.40 billion)

15. Jim Carrey ($2.407 billion)

14. Emma Watson ($2.439 billion)

13. Will Smith ($2.52 billion)

12. Julia Roberts ($2.539 billion)

11. Robert DeNiro ($2.569 billion)

10. Bruce Willis ($2.572 billion)

9. Cameron Diaz ($2.765 billion)

8. Sam Jackson ($2.812 billion)

7. Tom Cruise ($2.871 billion)

6. Johnny Depp ($2.887 billion)

5. Morgan Freeman ($2.945 billion)

4. Robin Williams ($2.96 billion)

3. Harrison Ford ($3.555 billion)

2. Eddie Murphy ($3.713 billion)

1. Tom Hanks ($4.012 billion)

(Source: BoxOfficeMojo)

Of note: Cameron Diaz is the highest ranking female on the list, while only four of the top 50 have never appeared in a sequel: Kathy Bates, Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler, and Leonardo DiCaprio (Baldwin provided voice work in the Madagascar sequel, although was not in the first one).

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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