According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest grossing actress of the aughties 2000s I-don’t-know-what-to-call-‘ems is Emma Watson. All six of her live-action films this decade just happen to be the six Harry Potter films, which have conjured $5.4 billion worldwide, or roughly $900 million per film. (Guinness actually only measured the first five Potter films, but PopWatch is a full service pop-culture blog. You’re welcome.)
But if you want to know who Guinness believes is Ms. Watson’s male counterpart as the decade’s highest moneymaker, you’re out of luck. For some reason, the famed record keeping crew simply proclaims Samuel L. Jackson as the world’s Highest Grossing Actor, full stop, no time-frame included.
Even if this is true for all time, the idea that Jackson was tops for the last ten years seemed…doubtful to me, so I crunched the numbers, courtesy Box Office Mojo. (We’re full service, I tells ya!) Indeed, thanks in part to the fact that he’s starred in practically every other movie released in the last ten years (okay, more like two dozen films, but that’s still more than two flicks a year), Mr. L. Jackson’s movies (excluding voice-over work) have raked in a most impressive $3.3 billion in global box-office. But that does not make him the decade’s highest grosser – not even close. Johnny Depp – a.k.a. Capt. Jack Sparrow, a.k.a. Willy Wonka, a.k.a. Sweeney Todd, a.k.a. EW’s Best of the Decade cover boy – has pulled in $4.2 billion in box-office doubloons this decade, but he isn’t tops either. Neither is Sir Ian McKellan, even though his work helped The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the X-Men trilogy, and The Da Vinci Code rake in an astronomic $4.8 billion worldwide.
Nope, best I can figure, the highest grossing male actor is…drumroll please…
Alan Rickman. Factor in his roles in, among other films, Love Actually and Sweeney Todd, and the cinema’s Severus Snape edges past Harry Potter co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint with a grand total of $5.9 billion in global box office. Of course, by this logic, Harry Potter’s Dame Maggie Smith is the decade’s box office queen, due to the $88 million and $74 million global gross of Gosford Park and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, respectively. But who’s counting?
So there you have it: A completely silly assessment of box office power based essentially on how lucky an actor is to find him or herself with a recurring role in a highly lucrative live-action franchise. Are you surprised by the outcome? Do you think I’ve missed actors whose films have somehow made more money this decade than Ms. Watson, Ms. Smith, and Mr. Rickman? And does this mean anything at all beyond the obvious fact that to really succeed in Hollywood, you need to be British and have a knack for magic?
UPDATE: I stand corrected. Thanks to astute reader Josh, who quite rightly pointed out that Orlando Bloom’s presence in both the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogies makes him nigh unbeatable in the decade’s box office showdown, with some $6.5 billion in box office coin to his name. Bully for him, and for Josh.
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