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Hollywood stars get paid tens of millions to appear in a feature film, so producers want a healthy return on their investment. But do these actors and actresses draw audiences themselves or is it a combination of factors in creating box office gold?
Every year since 1932, Quigley Publishing has surveyed theater owners and film buyers to get their take on which Hollywood names draw the most people to the theaters. Although no single star can be considered completely responsible for a film's box office success, theater owners, with their finger on the pulse of the entertainment market, have long been considered the most reliable barometer. Click ahead to see the top money-making stars of 2008!
By Paul Toscano
Posted 5 Jan 2009
One of the most recognizable British actors of the year, he was the lead in three films: "Quantum of Solace," "Defiance" and "Flashbacks of a Fool." Although the name James Bond may have drawn more people to the theaters than that of Daniel Craig--the latest Bond outing, Quantum", pulled in $165 million at the box office in 2008--the leading man is still a box office force.
Working on three big films in 2008 -- "Wanted" ($134 million), "The Changeling" ($35 million) and "Kung Fu Panda" ($215 million) -- Jolie certainly demonstrated her versatility, securing the ninth spot on this year's list.
With two films in 2008-- "Leatherheads" ($31 million) and "Burn After Reading" ($60 million)--Clooney underscored his penchant for unusual and colorful stories.
In the 2008 holiday comedy "Four Christmases," Witherspoon and co-star Vince Vaughn have generated $115 million in box office sales so far. And with over $8.5 million made in the past week, it looks like Witherspoon may have legs.
The hollywood funny man Adam Sandler took up two roles in 2008-- "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" ($100 million) and "Bedtime Stories" ($65 million). People may be flocking to the latter to see Sandler in a different light. Being a new father, he wanted to make a family film that young children would be encouraged to watch, which cannot be said about much of his earlier work.
Photo Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc.
There is no question about it; there is no Indiana Jones without Harrison Ford. The fourth installment of the adventurer series was one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, bringing in over $317 m in 2008.
After his 2007 role in Transformers, LaBeouf kicked it up a notch in 2008. With his role in "Eagle Eye," ($100 million) and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", LaBeouf's face was all over the big screen. This year looks promising as well for the young actor, with a new Transformers film due out.
The biggest blockbuster of 2008, and the second biggest of all time, "The Dark Knight," blew away any competition, with over $530 million in US box office sales. Although Heath Ledger's powerful performance as The Joker as well as his untimely death no doubt drew people to the movie, theater owners placed Christian Bale (Batman) at No. 3 in this year' survey.
Perhaps the most diversified 2008 money-making actor, Downey Jr. starred as billionaire-turned-superhero Tony Stark in "Iron Man" and multi-ethnic actor Kirk Lazarus in "Tropic Thunder", grossing $318 million and $110 million, respectively. Downey Jr. is expected to make at least two films per year for the next two years, including "Iron Man 2", currently in pre-production.
Smith is the king of summer blockbusters, with four of his films making the top-ten list of Independence Day weekend releases. He is also the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million at the domestic box offices. His performances in "Hancock" ($227 million) and "Seven Pounds" ($50 million) helped put Smith at the top of the list of the biggest money-making stars.
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