At Premiere we polled the industry for weeks to figure out our power 100. I’m sure MCN Webmaster David Poland has a lot of expert sources, but this list is misguided, I think. There’s a difference between a molehill of stars who can open a picture and have some clout overseas, and a mountain of various supporting actors and leading men and women who don’t have real marquee appeal unless they turn up in something everyone wants to see.
Gerard Butler is in a very different place than he was before 300. But that doesn’t mean he’ll turn into a major opening draw overnight either. Scarlet Johansson is still a hot casting item. Bankability is a better measure than ability to open. That means nothing. Tom Cruise can’t open when he’s in the wrong movie. And why send the message that being able to open a movie and picking commercial movies that open is what success is about? Ok, it’s what big salaries are based on, but that’s no way to chase a decent career. Most people agree that a selective swing between commercial vehicles and quality indie fare is a recipe for a long and happy acting life. What’s the methodology behind these rankings? Is it David’s opinion based on talking to how many people, and who? Domestic or foreign? Based on the past, predicting the future? Does Oscar worthiness mean anything? Some stars like Jodie Foster add a project credibility. This tells me nothing.
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And I also don’t want to be tantalized by the last half of a top 50 list without being able to see the first half. That’s too mean! David’s list so far is on the jump. What do you think?
FALLING OUT OF THE TOP 50
(Last Year’s Ranking Is In Parentheses After The Name)
Jessica Alba (48) – Sorry. Beach bikinis over a movie draw. A really cute television show (“Pretty Betty?”) calls.
Orlando Bloom (50) – The Pirates are ending and he is going to have to prove his box office value from the ground up, though someone will overpay him.
Diane Lane (33) – She seemed to be in a great place, but has stalled since Under The Tuscan Sun almost four years ago.
Lindsay Lohan (28) – She has another shot next month, but she may have outpartied her audience’s patience.
Hugh Jackman (39) – A fine actor and a great stage performer .. but zero proof he can open any movie, large or small.
Sarah Jessica Parker (47) – An ongoing work in progress. It looks like it will be a while before she does a money movie.
Renee Zellweger (46) – She may be done as a box office draw for a while.
THE TOP 23 – 52
52. Catherine Zeta-Jones (53) – We’ll have a better idea after her first film as a top-lined lead, No Reservations, comes out.
51. Rob Schneider (52) – Has a small, loyal audience, including Adam Sandler.
50. Kurt Russell (42) – He’s slid away from the family films he was tearing up a few years ago. It’s his right to go out and play, but the odd fact is, as good as he is in Grindhouse, his Disney roots are showing and that’s where he is box office.
49. Clive Owen (55) – He is a cult object of lust. But it is nearly impossible to quantify his box office value. The current fiscal incarnation of Ewan McGregor/Jude Law.
48. Jon Heder (-) – How do you value a great second baseman? No one knows what he could do on his own. And it’s hard to pull his value out of an ensemble, except that we all know that he lights up a trailer. Hmmm …
47. The Rock (36) – He’s a one film a year guy, but he opens. His films don’t really play overseas, however.
46. Charlize Theron (51) – Just two $100 million worldwide films in her entire career. She’s magnificent in many ways, but perhaps what she really wants to do is direct/produce.
45. Cameron Diaz (25) – She’s not working very much. It’s almost like she is waiting for 40 to return and play a mom. Hard to figure what the hold up is, but it’s not enhancing her box office value.
44. Keira Knightley (54) – How do you count Pirates? She seems to want to follow up with a bunch of arthouse films, no matter whether she is getting paid more than arthouse salaries for them.
43.Drew Barrymore (45) – Amazingly, Music & Lyrics is her biggest worldwide hit since 50 First Dates and since Charlie’s Angels before that. Lucky You is apparently a loser, so that won’t help make the case for Drew in her mid-30s. But she’s right there, ready to find the next good wave.
42. Ashton Kutcher (32) – He’s not actually making enough movies to solidify his position as a movie star.
41. Amanda Bynes (41) – She’s been an opener and Hairspray could expand her audience considerably. Unlike her media doppelganger, Hilary Duff, she seems committed to acting first.
40. Kevin Costner (-) – The guy has an audience and he is revving up to go grab it again. He is needy the way Harrison Ford is, but not as old. He could step into a wave similar to Ford’s last push.
39. Harrison Ford (40) – Firewall still opened to $13 million. His career is in decline, but he’s only a movie away from something more.
38. Halle Berry (27) – Right now, she is anyone’s guess, really. Perfect Stranger is a critical film for her to show she doesn’t belong on a TV series next year.
37. George Clooney (37) – Aside from the Ocean’s movies, he hasn’t made an intentionally commercial film since his big worldwide breakout in The Perfect Storm. Very hard to value, financially.
36. Jamie Foxx (43) – He has four $100 million-plus worldwide films in the last three years, including both Miami Vice and Dreamgirls last year, but he is probably still a bit overpriced. But he has a definite following.
35. Martin Lawrence (34) – Wild Hogs is his third worldwide $100 million-plus grosser (second non-animated) in the last 15 months. It’s not clear how much juice he has on his own, but he is not as out of the game as many in Hollywood feel.
34. Tyler Perry (-) – He really belonged on this list last year. He has his limitations, but he is a cash machine.
33. Ice Cube (23) – Another $14 million opening with Are We Done Yet?. He doesn’t play overseas, but he is a real draw here at home.
32. Bruce Willis (30) – He’s become a supporting actor box office boost, but with a Die Hard due this summer, he’s ready to come on stronger again.
31. Queen Latifah (29) – She’s a domestic box office diva. Audiences really like her.
30. Angelina Jolie (31) – She’s close to the Semi-Retired list and we’re a year away from anything non-animated that looks particularly commercial. But she still gets this much benefit of the doubt coming off of $478 million worldwide for Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
29. Leonardo DiCaprio (35) – The Departed put him back in the big, big game.
28. Steve Carrell (49) – He’s still a bit of a risk, but his TV show is a hit, he was the marketing key to the Little Miss Sunshine run, and he still feels like he’s on the ascent. Evan Almighty will be blamed on others if it doesn’t hit big. And if it does, he’ll get most of the credit.
27. Sandra Bullock (38) – She’s still a virtual $50 million domestic lock. And she’s cracked $100 million worldwide each of the last two years and may well again with Premonition.
26. Jack Black (42a) – Tenacious D was an absolute flop. But Nacho Libre put Black just about where Stiller and Vaughn and Ferrell were before they blew up. Now he has to prove it some more. But he is a walking billboard
25. Owen Wilson (22) – It’s still hard to get a good read on Mr. Wilson. You, Me & Dupree did good, but not great. Night at The Museum was a cameo, really. Hard to read.
24. Nicole Kidman (18) – She has two commercial movies back to back this fall for the first time since The Interpreter and Bewitched. Let’s hope this combo goes better. She still gets the benefit of the doubt.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]