Some actors make tens of millions of dollars at the worldwide box office every year, and that's how get on the list of highest grossing actors of all time. Over the past decade of filmmaking, many of the old rules of stardom have changed. The notion of the A-List actor – a figure of such incredible fame and audience allure that their name alone can guarantee financial success – has greatly shifted in the new blockbuster age.
Now, the money makers are franchises, familiar intellectual properties, and years-long series where the brand attracts more attention than those playing the key parts. What this means is that a Marvel actor can have billions of dollars of grosses to their names thanks to their involvement in those films, but there’s no guarantee that stardom will carry over to commercial glory when they headline a completely different title. That’s not to say that stardom is worthless now.
The importance of international box office success, especially in regions like China, has seen the clout of certain actors increase over others. However, there is still a reason that the majority of the highest grossing actors today are Avengers stars. To show how much this has impacted the box office, we’re taking a look at the 15 highest grossing actors at the box office (based on the worldwide totals of all their movies), not adjusted for inflation.
15. Chris Pratt
- Top Movies Credited: Jennifer's Body (2009), Moneyball (2011), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), The Lego Movie (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Jurassic World (2015), Passengers (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
- Domestic: $1,169,054,669 (as leading actor), $1,753,221,722 (as lead ensemble member), $420,542,717 (as supporting actor), $18,389,433 (other)
- International: $2,086,944,533 (as leading actor), $2,509,631,443 (as lead ensemble member), $417,111,869 (as supporting actor), $15,922,905 (other)
- Worldwide Total: $7,518,852,367
- Average: $626,571,031 (from 12 films)
Chris Pratt became a blockbuster star after first appearing in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy, and then took things to the next level with the overwhelming success of Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World, both of which released one year apart. Despite having fewer appearances in the MCU than his other leading contemporaries, Pratt is one of the leading stars of two major franchises, which is what boosted his overall box office performance as an actor into the top 15 list. Interestingly, Pratt and Samuel L. Jackson are the only two actors with two films grossing over $1 billion in 2018. Pratt's sure come a long way from being a TV star on Everwood and Parks and Recreation.
14. Dwayne Johnson
- Top Movies Credited: The Mummy Returns (2001), Doom (2005), Fast Five (2011), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Hercules (2014), Furious 7 (2015), San Andreas (2015), Moana (2016), The Fate of the Furious (2017), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), Rampage (2018)
- Domestic: $1,841,588,089 (as leading actor), $810,856,927 (as lead ensemble member), $1,010,604,745 (as supporting actor), $192,264,688 (other)
- International: $3,009,343,992 (as leading actor), $1,937,420,097 (as lead ensemble member), $1,738,247,364 (as supporting actor), $107,251,182
- Worldwide Total: $7,599,209,105
- Average: $271,400,325 (from 28 films)
From WWE wrestler to Hollywood superstar, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s career trajectory frequently defies belief. While he headlined a number of original properties before joining the Fast and Furious franchise, it’s that series that catapulted him to a new level of fame. Johnson is one of the few actors who can join an ailing or lesser-known franchise late in the game and elevate it to box office glory. He’s also one of the few actors working today whose name can sell as many tickets as the intellectual property the film is based on. Johnson has used that power to make old-school crowd-pleasing action fare like Rampage, and he’s in no danger of slowing down any time soon. After all, he's slated to join the DCEU as Black Adam and is co-headlining a Fast & Furious spinoff, titled Hobbs & Shaw, in 2019.
13. Rupert Grint
- Top Movies Credited: Harry Potter series (2001 - 2011), Charlie Countryman (2013), Moonwalkers (2015)
- Domestic: $2,072,738,993 (as leading actor), $317,684,888 (as lead ensemble member)
- International: $4,679,903,079 (as leading actor), $671,041,017 (as lead ensemble member)
- Worldwide Total: $7,741,367,977
- Average: $595,489,844 (from 13 films)
As one of the central actors at the heart of the Harry Potter series, Rupert Grint has kept by far the lowest profile. Indeed, he hasn’t been in a film since 2015, and is instead mostly sticking to television series like Snatch, not to mention starring in M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming Apple series. But the fact that he’s on this list above one of the biggest stars on the planet is a testament to how popular the Harry Potter movies were when they released in theaters (and continue to be to this day).
12. Chris Evans
- Top Movies Credited: Not Another Teen Movie (2001), Cellular (2004) Fantastic Four (2004), Sunshine (2007), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Domestic: $415,128,925 (as leading actor), $2,531,775,589 (as lead ensemble member), $331,114,058 (as supporting actor), $334,286,550 (other)
- International: $450,670,453 (as leading actor), $4,508,262,888 (as lead ensemble member), $293,629,651 (as supporting actor), $546,969,390 (other)
- Worldwide Total: $7,905,837,855
- Average: $343,732,081 (from 23 films)
Captain America himself, Chris Evans, had already cracked the superhero market when he played the Human Torch in the Tim Story Fantastic Four movies in the mid-2000s, but the box office clout of Chris Evans came when he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2011. Outside of the MCU, Evans has kept a low-key actor profile, sticking to indies, like Gifted, but he’s made so many appearances in the franchise as Steve Rogers that he remains a box office power above others in the movies.
11. Zoe Saldana
- Top Movies Credited: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Star Trek (2009), Avatar (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Star Trek Beyond (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Domestic: $917,894,197 (as leading actor), $2,162,953,081 (as lead ensemble member), $524,182,734 (as supporting actor), $117,963,959 (other)
- International: $2,104,789,482 as leading actor, $2,850,802,676 (as lead ensemble member), $569,590,463 (as supporting actor), $61,311,333 (other)
- Worldwide Total: $8,036,439,436
- Average: $321,457,577 (from 25 films)
All too often, Zoe Saldana's box office clout is underestimated. On top of her work as Gamora in the MCU, she starred in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film and played Uhura in all three Star Trek reboot movies. Then there's James Cameron's Avatar, which remains the highest grossing film of all time at the worldwide box office. If the Avatar sequels keep up that pace at the box office, then it's certainly possible Saldana can become the highest grossing actor/actress in the world.