Top 10 Most Successful Actors at the Box Office


A good movie will transport you into a separate time or era with an intriguing story, everlasting characters, and imaginative plot development.  It could have a happy, sad, romantic, or action packed theme.  As a whole, the world population adores the character actors who star in these stories.  People can personally relate to certain movie characters and individual actors.  In the history of cinema, billions of dollars has been grossed in movie theatres and rental stores worldwide.  Certain actors have made their mark on the industry becoming the most successful at the box office.  I have compiled a list of the most successful actors in world history, according to money made on films they have starred in.

10. Robin Williams

U.S. Gross – $3,177,675,199
Worldwide Gross – $5,749,935,745


Robin Williams is a storied comedic actor who rose to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy.  He quickly became an international celebrity and movie star in the 1980’s.  Williams is a bit of a goofy character, but is a great actor and can also tackle dramatic roles.  He has won six Golden Globes and three Grammy Awards in his career.  Robin William’s average film gross is $59,956,136 million dollars per movie.  Be sure to look out for his 2010 release Old Dogs.  In March of 2009 Williams had successful heart surgery to replace his aortic valve.  He has a tour planned and still travels the world performing his stand up comedy act.

Most Successful Films:

  1. Night at the Museum – $574,480,841
  2. Aladdin – $504,050,219
  3. Mrs. Doubtfire – $441,286,195
  4. Happy Feet – $385,000,317

9. Will Smith

U.S. Gross – $2,542,908,988
Worldwide Gross – $5,771,022,176


Will Smith is widely regarded as the most successful actor making films today.  His movies have an amazing average gross of $127,145,449 million dollars, which is the highest among lead actors.  He is the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in domestic box office sales.  Will Smith has also had eight consecutive films open at the #1 spot.  Unlike some individuals on this list, Smith has not earned movie credit for small roles or voice work.  In the future, he will be starring in the blockbuster Time Share and will also be making a prequel to I Am Legend.

Most Successful Films:

  1. Independence Day – $817,400,878
  2. Hancock – $624,346,274
  3. Men in Black – $587,790,539
  4. I Am Legend – $585,055,701

8. Morgan Freeman

U.S. Gross – $3,138,301,600
Worldwide Gross – $5,851,042,996


Morgan Freeman is one of the greatest character actors of all time.  He is rarely the leading man in films, but his role always stands out and is vital to the movies success.  He has one of the most dominant and recognizable voices in Hollywood.  He has starred in around sixty productions, which have an average gross of $64,046,971 million dollars.  Freeman has many upcoming films he is contributing to, including Invictus, The Last Full Measure, and The Maiden Heist.

Most Successful Films:

  1. The Dark Knight – $1,000,245,358
  2. The War of the Worlds (Narrator) – $591,745,532
  3. Bruce Almighty – $485,004,995
  4. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – $390,500,000

7. Eddie Murphy

U.S. Gross – $3,470,799,901
Worldwide Gross – $6,211,397,821


Eddie Murphy is undoubtedly the most successful comedic actor of all time.  His films have an average gross of $99,165,711 million dollars.  Eddie Murphy began his career as an edgy comedian and performance actor.  Lately, he has turned to children’s films and continues to entertain billions of people worldwide.  Murphy has three films set to be released in the last half of 2009.  They are Beverly Hills Cop IV, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and A Thousand Words.  Shrek Forever After will be out in the middle of 2010.

Most Successful Films:

  1. Shrek 2 – $919,838,758
  2. Shrek the Third – $798,958,162
  3. Beverly Hills Cop – $316,300,000
  4. Coming to America – $288,800,000

6. Bruce Willis

U.S. Gross – $3,045,317,743
Worldwide Gross – $ 6,432,992,990


Bruce Willis is a true action hero.  He has appeared in over sixty films and usually plays the title role in his movies.  Bruce Willis was born in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany and his father was an American soldier.  He moved to Penns Grove, New Jersey when he was two years old, after his father was discharged from the military.  To date, his films have an average gross of $51,615,555 million dollars per movie.  He truly has a unique acting style and makes intense, edge of your seat, entertaining cinema.  Watch out for his role alongside Tracy Morgan in Kevin Smith’s newest comedy A Couple of Dicks, which will be out in January of 2010.

Most Successful Films:

  1. The Sixth Sense – $672,806,292
  2. Armageddon – $554,600,000
  3. Live Free or Die Hard – $383,531,464
  4. Over the Hedge- $336,002,981

5. Tom Cruise

U.S. Gross – $3,274,294,878
Worldwide Gross – $6,642,337,497


Tom Cruise is a true international celebrity.  He is cherished in Japan, Europe, and other areas of the world much more then many actors on the list.  This is because he often travels and visits many different countries.  Cruise is widely considered one of the most powerful celebrities in the world.  His films have an average gross of $96,302,791 million dollars.  He will be starring in the blockbuster Motorcade in 2010.

Most Successful Films:

  1. The War of the Worlds – $591,745,532
  2. Mission Impossible 2 – $546,209,889
  3. The Last Samurai – $456,810,575
  4. Rain Man – $412,800,000

4. Orlando Bloom

U.S. Gross – $2,390,308,637
Worldwide Gross – $6,554,217,251


Orlando Bloom is an English actor and the youngest member of this prestigious group of men.  He landed main roles in two of the biggest trilogies of all time, playing Legolas in The Lord of the Rings and Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean.  Orlando Bloom has an amazing average film gross of $183,869,895 million dollars per movie.  Bloom’s first main title role was in the 2005 release Kingdom of Heaven, which was a profitable hit making $211,398,413 million dollars worldwide.  Orlando Bloom is extremely popular in various areas of Europe and England.  He has an international draw that is matched by very few.  Some of his upcoming roles include appearances in the movies Sympathy for Delicious and Main Street.

Most Successful Films:

  1. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – $1,133,027,325
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – $1,065,659,812
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – $926,284,377
  4. Troy – $497,398,577

3. Harrison Ford

U.S. Gross – $3,630,449,689
Worldwide Gross – $6,657,454,464


In the past, Harrison Ford was highest grossing actor in the world, but has recently fallen to number three.  You have to keep in mind that Ford was popular during the 1970’s and 80’s when box-office sales were not as extravagant.  This article does not measure inflation scales.  A high majority of the most financially successful films in history have come in the last twenty years.  At one point in history, each of the top five box office hits of all time included one of Harrison Ford’s roles.  His films have an average gross of $98,120,262 million dollars.  Ford will be starring in the film Crowley, which will be out at the end of the year.

Most Successful Films:

  1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – $797,900,000
  2. Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – $786,558,765
  3. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – $534,171,960
  4. The Fugitive – $368,900,000

2. Tom Hanks

U.S. Gross – $3,985,186,565
World Gross – $8,007,367,700


Tom Hanks is the most successful lead actor in cinema history with his films grossing over $8 billion dollars worldwide.  He is averaging a gross of $94,885,394 million dollars per film.  Tom Hanks has starred in over 50 movies and 19 of them made over $100 million dollars at the worldwide box office.  Although, he does have the animated features Cars and The Simpson Movie on his resume, which he only had minor voice roles in.  In 2010, Hanks will be starring in Disney’s A Christmas Carol and Toy Story 3.

Most Successful Films:

  1. The Da Vinci Code – $757,236,138
  2. Forrest Gump – $679,400,525
  3. Saving Private Ryan – $481,635,085
  4. Cast Away – $427,230,516

1. Samuel L Jackson

U.S. Gross – $4,458,983,764
Worldwide Gross – $8,640,150,950


Samuel L Jackson is the world’s highest grossing actor and his movies have made over $8.5 billion dollars worldwide.  Samuel is different from many actors on this list and has played smaller character roles in many blockbuster films.  You may argue that he doesn’t deserve the top spot over leading actors who have appeared in fewer films.  Although, Samuel L Jackson has been the busiest man in Hollywood for the last twenty years and should be commemorated for appearing in so many famous motion pictures, over 70 productions in all.  Movies that he has appeared in have an average gross of $57,166,459 million dollars.  As you would expect, Samuel L Jackson will be appearing in some upcoming features, including Iron Man 2, Quantum Quest: Cassini Space Odyssey, and Blown.  He is well aware of his sales record and is continuously trying to land roles in the year’s biggest blockbuster hits.

Most Successful Films:

  1. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – $924,288,297
  2. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – $848,998,877
  3. The Incredibles – $635,564,642
  4. Iron Man – $582,313,199

Honorable Mentions:

Frank Welker

U.S. Gross – $4,954,899,301
Worldwide Gross – $9,282,114,860

Frank Welker is the most famous voice actor in Hollywood.  Over the last 40 years he has provided voice work and special effects for over seventy films and television series.  I have added him as an honorable mention because he is not a screen actor, but Frank is listed as number one on the list of the All Time Top 100 Stars at the Box Office, which is generated by total revenue in films he participated in.  The average gross for a film that Frank Welker was involved with is $55,054,437.

Most Successful Films

  1. Independence Day (Vocal Effects) – $817,400,878
  2. The Lion King (Additional Voice) – $783,839,505
  3. Aladdin (Abu the Monkey) – $504,050,219
  4. Beauty and the Beast (Footstool) – $403,476,931

Can’t Forget the Ensemble Actors:

When creating this list, one of the criteria was that the actor played a leading role in a portion of their featured films.  There is a small list of actors who are not officially leading men, but have starred in some of the biggest grossing movies in history.  Many of these men contributed to the widely successful Harry Potter series, but in order to get to the level of multi-billion dollars sales, an actor must have numerous popular roles.  Here is a short list of some of the actors that deserve recognition.

John Ratzenberger

Worldwide Sales – $6,475,185,574
Notable Voice Actor – Ratatouille, Cars, WALL-E, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc, also Cliff Clavin on Cheers.

Alan Rickman

Worldwide Sales – $5,974,545,031
Notable Films – Harry Potter Series, Robin Hood, Die Hard

James Earl Jones

Worldwide Sales – $5,952,493,986
Notable Films – Voice of Darth Vader, The Lion King, Coming to America

Ian McKellen

Worldwide Gross – $5,862,463,679
Notable Films – Lord of the Rings Series, Da Vinci Code, X-Men

Gary Oldman

Worldwide Sales – $5,761,120,790
Notable Films – Harry Potter Series, The Dark Knight, Hannibal

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  1. not sure about this list. the list should only count if you are the leading man or the most important supporting actor. bruce willis and samuel l jackson never heard of the word no. they just do any movie. i don’t think they even read the script. love willis but he’s living of his legacy.

  2. I’m suprised that noone has even mentioned Michael Caine. He has almost as many movie credits under his belt as John Wayne and is still going strong. Also what about some of the great Japanese actors? Many of them have been in hundreds of classic war movies as wall as Japanese movies. Then of course there are a multitude of chinese actors who have sold millions of tickets. My point is that even though the United States puts out the big blockbusters there are brillant actors all over the world who may not get the recognition,but are just as good and just as popular; have put in just as much work as these big names you guys keep talking about. Chances are that the actual holder of most on screen apperances in a movie is someone whose name you can’t even pronounce,

  3. The hell with the dollar numbers. What I want to hear is who everone thinks is the greatest actor of all time.

  4. This is very surprising news. Noah’s Ark in the Old Testament, about 4,500 years ago, has been found in Turkey Ararat updated 4000 meters above sea level, the mountain glaciers.

  5. Are you kidding me with Samuel L Jackson getting credit for being in Iron Man?!
    He was in it at the end of the credits for like 1.5 minutes. That’s not what I would call a successful role.

  6. prashiddha sharma on

    this is a suckass list.
    johnny depp is the highest grossing actor with >$8 billion gross worldwide and he’s not even in the list. his POTC franchise alone has grossed over $3.7billions and 5th installment is set in 2016 winter. plus Alice in Wonderland grossed over $1.05 billions and 2nd installment is set in 2016 summer. charlie and the chocolate factory with over $400 millions, dark shadows over $300m, sleepy hollow, the tourist, the lone ranger and rango over $200m each. i’ve not yet talked about his other moderately successful grosses plus his movies before 1999. if u only sum up the grosses i’ve mentioned above, it becomes more than $7 billions. so dont be confused or misled by this suckass list, johnny depp is the highest grossing actors of all time and he will continue to be, with his blockbusters coming…

  7. SAmuel L. Jackson on

    People, people, this is sooooooooo embarrassing. My agent compiled this list. Even I know the #1 box office star of all time on a worldwide basis is Clint Eastwood.

  8. its a bummer cause I taught u people showed most successful acactors in da world BT it’s only Ab Hollywood weres Bollywood or China film industry or other top film industries

  9. Does anyone know if there is a list of biggest actors of all time? This list is just another pointless (who’s the latest) list. I want to know what actor has sold the most tickets not who was popular in the last few years. I know that Samuel Jackson has made more that Clark Gable did but how about answering what actor is ACTUALLY the biggest of all time and not the biggest in 2015?

    • Lol sharukh khan he is not that big to mentioned in this list wakeup son there is no compare hollyhood and bollyhoodimentioned where is johny deep 8.5 billion worldwide gross

  10. Most of actor in this lost are not mainstream actor ,,,actor who h’s small role on the movie and appear in successful movies were mentisoned lol beside fewofem….