Forget The Oscars, Which Actor Has the Biggest Overall Box Office Gross?

As we approach winter, Oscars season is in full swing, with convincing predictions and hypothesis available for each and every film, actor and director in contention for any category you can think of. The frontrunners for those coveted golden statuettes include Michael Fassbender, Cate Blanchett, Chiwetel Ejiofor, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep.

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks is Captain Phillips

It’s a fine list of names, for sure. And it’s basically a given that most people would love to swap shoes with any of the aforementioned actors who we consider to be in line for at least nominations - if not a few trips to the stage - when the Oscars are handed out in March 2014.

But of the actors we just named, only one of them features in the top 40 actors when you line them up and click ‘sort by’ total box office gross. Can you guess whom? Well it’s pretty obvious: step forward Mr. Tom Hanks. The legendary actor, according to Box Office Mojo, has accumulated a staggering $4,125.7 billion over his distinguished career, putting him around $300m ahead of Eddie Murphy who comes behind him in the list.

Highlights from what has been a lucrative four decades include the Toy Story franchise, of which the third film represents Hanks’ biggest grossing film with $415m. Of course, it’s difficult to talk about the 57-year-old actor without mentioning Forrest Gump – the 1994 film that brought the world one of film’s finest lines: “Life’s like a box of chocolates.” It was Big, though, that hurtled Hanks into the movie mainstream and predicated a career full of blockbusters and family favourites.

Even Sandra Bullock can't believe Gravity's success

He also captured hearts the critics’ attention spans with movies like Cast Away, Saving Private Ryan, The Road to Perdition, and The Green Mile – films that represent the actor’s finest critical reception.

Currently, Hanks is starring in Captain Phillips, the Paul Greengrass thriller that tells the true story of Richard Phillips, whose ship was captured by Somali pirates. His performance has been lauded, leading him into the favourites category for the Best Actor category at the Oscars. Should he win, he would match Daniel Day Lewis’s record for three Academy awards for Best Actor – he’s already picked two up for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.

You have to look pretty far down the list to get to any of this year’s other contenders. Cate Blanchett, who stuns in Woody Allen’s triumphant Blue Jasmine, sits at 43 with just over $2 billion. Her highest grossing film is Return of The King in which she played Galadriel. Bullock, too, can be found in the 40s. She’s 49th with $2.014.8 billion. Gravity should see her skip a few place, especially with the recent news that it will be open to the Chinese market after all.

George ClooneyGeorge Clooney co-wrote, produced, directed and stars in Monuments Men

It’s both surprising and commendable than Streep doesn’t figure in the top 50. She’s 67th with $1.7 billion. The commanding on-screen presence that was The Iron Lady has built up one of the most celebrated careers of all time without allowing herself to be swayed by the biggest – and riskiest – deals in Hollywood.

Back to the top of the list, though, and after Murphy comes Morgan Freeman. He hasn’t been too active of late – his last ‘big’ role was probably Oblivion, which was a welcome surprise in terms of both box office stats and critical response. The actor, who has played God on more than one occasion, saw his biggest contribution to his studio come from The Dark Knight, which pulled in $534m.

The Top 10 Highest Grossing Actors of All Time

1 Tom Hanks $4,125.7
2 Eddie Murphy $3,810.4
3 Morgan Freeman $3,709.9
4 Samuel L. Jackson $3,681.7
5 Harrison Ford $3,664.0
6 Tom Cruise $3,292.0
7 Bruce Willis $3,172.6
8 Robin Williams $3,162.7
9 Johnny Depp $3,070.3
10 Robert Downey, Jr. $3,001.7

The top 10 is comprised entirely of male actors, Harrison Ford – who can be seen alongside Ben Kingsley in Ender’s Game – is 5th after Samuel L. Jackson in 4th. Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Robin Williams, Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. make up the rest of the top 10 respectively.

Cate BlanchettCate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

Which brings us to, perhaps, our biggest surprise: where’s George Clooney? He’s way back in 76th, with $1.731m, that’s where. The impeccably bearded Hollywood hunk’s biggest film is Ocean’s Eleven, with $183.4m. Gravity will supersede that, but his position is certainly a shock. He’s officially ‘less valuable’ than Robert Pattinson if the list is to be taken on face value (which it’s not).

For the full list, click here.

Captain Phillips (Columbia Pictures), Gravity (Warner Bros.) and Blue Jasmine (Sony) are out now. The Monuments Men (Columbia) is scheduled for release on December 18, 2013.


Tags: Tom Hanks - Cate Blanchett - Meryl Streep - George Clooney - Eddie Murphy - Samuel L Jackson - Harrison Ford - Sandra Bullock


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