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The 20 Highest Grossing Female-Led Action Films

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 8, 2012 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 8, 2012 |

The Hunger Games held the top spot during a week in which the sequel’s director was put in doubt. Rumors are circulating that Gary Ross — who has already helped assemble the sequel, Catching Fire — may bail over money. It’s unlikely, however, that Ross won’t get it ironed out, and I don’t see Lionsgate — off the biggest film in the studio’s history — failing to compromise to keep him aboard. In either respect, we do know that Fox buckled and allowed Lionsgate have Jennifer Lawrence in the fall to film the sequel, choosing to push back filming of X-Men: First Class until the January 2013. Fox had first dibs on Lawrence, but the deal will probably work in its favor: A First Class sequel could only do better with another huge blockbuster under Jennifer Lawrence’s belt.

Indeed, The Hunger Games passed the $300 million mark this week, and it is now the highest grossing action film with a female action lead. It’s not even close, in fact. There’s a $100 million difference between it and number two, and with the way The Hunger Games is going, $400 million is not out of reach. In fact, perusing the list of the top 20, it looks like the highest grossing female action star of all time is likely Angelina Jolie. She has four films on this list with a combined gross of not that much more north of $400 million. Catching Fire should then easily make Jennifer Lawrence the highest grossing female action star in the history of film.

Not bad for a Kentucky woman from a humble background.

Here are The 20 Highest Grossing Female-Led Action Films

20. Alien 3 ($55 million)

19. Courage Under Fire ($59 million)

18. Resident Evil: Afterlife ($60 million)

17. Underworld Evolution ($62 million)

16. Underworld Awakening ($62 million)

15. The Fifth Element ($63 million)

14. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life ($65 million)

13. Kill Bill Vol II ($66 million)

12. Kill Bill Vol. I ($70 million)

11. Alien ($80 million)

10. Aliens ($85 million)

9. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle ($100 million)

8. Miss Congeniality ($106 million)

7. Salt ($118 million)

6. Charlie’s Angels ($125 million)

5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ($128 million)

4. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ($131 million)

3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith ($186 million)

2. Terminator 2: Judgement Day ($204 million)

1. Hunger Games ($302 million (and counting))

American Reunion took second place this weekend with $21.5 million, behind even the $33 million of the last entry in the series, 2003’s American Wedding, suggesting — along with Scream — that audiences are not terribly interested in 90’s nostalgia yet. The same could also be said for the release of the 1997 film, Titanic, the second highest grossing film of all time. The 3D re-release only mustered $17 million. Meanwhile, Wrath of the Titans had a 55 percent drop, putting up another $15 million in its second weekend. Wrath will top out below $100 million before it’s all said and done, but like its predecessor, the majority of its box-office grosses will come overseas, where it’s already put up $76 million. Finally, Mirror Mirror fell a modest 39 percent, adding $11 million to bring its total to $36 million, a long ways from its $85 million production budget.

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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.