Scarlett Johansson arrived on the scene in Hollywood more than 20 years ago, first as a child actress. Her first film, in fact, was Rob Reiner’s infamous 1994 flop North - the one of which Roger Ebert wrote “I hated, hated, hated this movie” - when she was just ten years old. Johansson emerged as a major actress, as well as sex symbol, about ten years later, with her Oscar-nominated turn in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.
More recently, Johansson has appeared in both prestige fare (Under the Skin) and multiple films as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise (starting with director Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2 in 2010). And thanks to the latter, Johansson has reached a significant milestone.
Scarlett Johansson is now the highest-grossing actress in Hollywood history, going by total box office earnings of every one of her movies. As CBM noted, citing Box Office Mojo figures, Johansson’s movies have earned a total of over $3.3 billion to date. The second-highest grossing actress is Cameron Diaz ($3.031 billion) and third is Helena Bonham Carter ($2,819 billion), at the time of writing this.
While first among actresses, Johansson is the 10th-highest-earning actor overall, with the top five comprised of Harrison Ford ($4.871 billion), Samuel L. Jackson ($4.656 billion), Morgan Freeman ($4.433 billion), Tom Hanks ($4.433 billion) and Robert Downey Jr. ($3.94 billion.) Johansson, however, is the youngest of the top ten and likely has a lot of time remaining in her career - and at least a couple more Marvel movies - that will enable her to climb the list in the coming years.
When it comes to ranking pure star power, the all-time box office list isn’t exactly the most perfect measurement. It takes into account actors who have been part of large ensemble casts, and also grants extra credit to actors who had small parts in many-movie franchises. Samuel L. Jackson is #2 largely because he’s been in three Star Wars films and seven Marvel ones. Anthony Daniels - the actor who has played C-3PO in every Star Wars film to date - is #15 on the list, and many filmgoers have never seen his actual face. Stanley Tucci, a longtime character actor who had roles of various sizes in the Transformers and Hunger Games franchises, is 17th, while motion-capture expert Andy Serkis is 22nd.
Then again, let it not be said that Scarlett Johansson isn’t a true movie star - and she’s pretty clearly enough of a draw to justify a standalone movie for The Black Widow.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2– May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.