Sure, Angelina Jolie looked great in “Wanted,” but was it a success because of her?
The Hollywood Reporter relays Forbes magazine’s list of Hollywood’s top ten female money earners during the last years. First place goes to Angelina Jolie, and second to Jennifer Aniston. For you gossip page readers, yes, that is the current and former Mrs. Brad Pitt.
The list is based on money earned by the stars from June 2008 to June of this year. THR says Forbes based its list on discussions with agents, managers, producers and lawyers, but the discussion mostly seems to revolve around how much money each woman was paid.
Jolie’s take during the year was $27 million, a figure that comes from her salaries on “Wanted” and the upcoming “Salt.” Aniston earned $25 million from her salaries on ”Marley & Me” and the upcoming “The Baster.” She also has money coming in from “Friends” on a regular basis, and some endorsement deals.
The interesting thing, though, is that you’ll notice both of these actresses got paid for movies that made a lot of money but weren’t reliant on their names for their success. People didn’t see “Wanted” because it was an “Angelina Jolie movie” but because it was an action-adventure summer movie based on a comic book; “Marley & Me” was a hit because it was based on a major bestseller, not because it was a “Jennifer Aniston movie.” Now the presence of these actresses didn’t hurt the movies’ box office, and maybe nudged a few ticket buyers over the edge who might have been on the fence, but the point remains that they didn’t open these movie. So do their names justify their salaries? Let’s take a look at the rest of the list.
3. Meryl Streep ($24 million)
4. Sarah Jessica Parker ($23 million)
5. Cameron Diaz ($20 million)
6. Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon ($15 million each)
8. Nicole Kidman and Drew Barrymore ($12 million each)
10. Renee Zellweger ($10 million).
Out of all the women on this list, possibly the only one you could even come close to saying was really responsible for the success of the film (or films) that gave her that paycheck was Sarah Jessica Parker, and that’s more because she is so heavily identified with “Sex and the City.” That movie wouldn’t have been a success without her, but she certainly wouldn’t have had a huge worldwide hit in just any romantic comedy.
So I guess what we’re saying is that while stars can add to a movie’s success, they’re rarely the main draw. If you’re a producer, you’re better off paying a lot of money for the rights to a bestseller than a big paycheck to a movie star.