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This is What Money Looks Like: Hollywood’s Highest Paid Actresses…Is There A Magic Formula?

This is What Money Looks Like: Hollywood's Highest Paid Actresses...Is There A Magic Formula?

Thompson on Hollywood

Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker lead the pack of women racking in the dough Hollywood-style. Gender-transcending movie star Jolie is no surprise (she would easily double her earnings if she said yes to every project she was offered), while Parker’s success is due mostly to the Sex and the City franchise and her perfume line. The rest of the top ten: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon at $28 million each, Julia Roberts and Kristen Stewart at $20 million, Katherine Heigl ($19 million), Cameron Diaz ($18 million), Sandra Bullock ($15 million) and Meryl Streep ($10 million).

Here’s the complete breakdown at Forbes. From May 2010-May 2011, the ten have totaled earnings of $218 million. What do they have in common? Is there a recipe for their success?

The answer is no.

Each is situated in a different position within the Hollywood machine and earns their dollars from a variety of sources. Consider some random statistics: Of the ten, at least three have their own perfume (Parker, Aniston, Witherspoon), seven are mothers (all but Aniston, Stewart and Diaz), and five are married. Stewart is the youngest at 21, and Streep is the oldest at 62.

Most likely to stay on the top ten for at least five years? Jolie.

Least likely? Heigl.

Biggest question mark? The gifted but inconsistent Stewart, with the Twilight series coming to an end, has yet to prove that she can carry a non-Twilight movie.

The others have had their ups (Roberts’ Eat, Pray, Love with $204.5 million gross worldwide), downs (Witherspoon’s How Do You Know with only $48.6 million worldwide on a budget of $120 million) and in Heigl’s case, surprising success despite consistently sub-par critical response.

In five years Jolie could be the only star-earner still on the Forbes list. Times they are a changing.

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Renaldo Strazi

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Aniston is aging out of romcoms sweetie roles and gets Friends residuals plus endorsements for water which may make most of her income in the future, Reese is much younger and cuter and will be a top earner for years to come. Jolie is unique and so talented and she will be at the top for years. Sandra’s production company is doing well but like Julia she may not be the draw she once was in the coming years. KH is an enigma and who knows if she will still be in demand. KS is so young and her future depends on how well she can transition from the Twi series.


Sandra Bullock could overtake Jolie. Stewart hasn’t starred in a major movie since taking Twilight. The upcoming Universal film, Snow White and the Huntsman, will be her litmus test. Heigl has as good of a chance as Aniston to compete with Witherspoon for chick flicks.

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