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. According to me the world's most successful actor is him,SHAH RUKH KHAN,the great.Just see the films he acted like ddlj,om shanti om etc,etc. we love you srk.

  2. Johnny Depp should be in here instead of Will Smith. His US gross is 2.6 billion and worldwide's 5.7 billion. Well, this was long ago…

  3. i am jack's smi on

    will smith does have credit as a voice actor.

    shark tale with jack black & angelina jolie .

    and i'm pretty sure that movie made some bank.

  4. … Where the hell is Sly Stallone!!??? Hey everybody, Rocky-Rambo… Are we living on the same planet???

  5. Sam Jackson is utterly ridiculous as No 1….for the simple reason that a hell of a lot of "his" movies just arent "his" movies. Orlando Bloom appearing at No 5 is also a joke although naturally i understand why….the answer is simple. Actor in a LEADING role only should be the criteria, Mr Jackson and Bloom would disappear off this list in a nano second.

    • Bloom has the lead in Pirates. Will Turner IS the LEADING role. Balian is the LEADING role in Kingdom of Heaven. Bloom’s Legolas inspired to create more than 320 thousands websites all over the world. Most of the people who visited those sites paid for the tickets and DVDs. Do the math.

      Depp was considered as a Box Office poison for years BEFORE he got lucky with Pirates. And he was in the same movie with Bloom (Duh!) who already had his HUGE fanabse as Legolas. Depp is helpless without Bloom in On Stranger Tides. The movie got the big BO thanks to the previous popularity of the franchise and because of the big team work of the cast (Bloom, Rush, Nighy, Knightly, Davenport, Depp, etc.) and the crew. On his own Depp is not interesting. He failed the Tourist, The Rum Diary. The Public Enemies was the failure in Domestic and it didn’t drown totally only thanks to the International BO. Alice would be having the big BO with or without Depp. Aside of the fact that he played “Sparrow” instead of the Mad Hatter in it. Only with the different makeup. He can’t carry the movie on his own. He is overlyexposed in mass media. It doesn’t mean that he is a better actor than any on the offered list on all accounts, BO included.

      • What have you been smoking to seriously consider Bloom a more popular actor than Depp?

        The word-of-mouth of the first Pirates movie was “OMG. Check it out – Jack Sparrow (Depp) is so funny.” Nobody watched “Pirates” because of Bloom (you’re obviously a fan so you don’t understand) but because of Depp. When most people think of those movies, Jack Sparrow appears in their heads. Besides, the whole franchise is based on Jack Sparrow.

        And who is Legolas without Elijah Wood or Viggo Mortensen? I honestly forgot an actor like Bloom existed. He’s a teen idol and has NO hits besides LOTR and Pirates.

        Depp on the other hand has FOUR Pirates movies, Alice In Wonderland (promoted with his face, so half the audience went because of his name) which all made over 1 billion and were promoted with Depp’s name. So he’s a bigger bankable star than any Bloom could ever be.Do you seriously think they would make another Pirates movie WITHOUT Jack Sparrow?

  6. Where the hell is Johnny Depp or Daniel Radcliffe; this list is baseless and arm flapping guesses

  7. Lasik Laser Eye Surgery · on

    you can say that morgan freeman is one of the most versatile actors that we have today `

  8. Ok i just read all these comments and i agree with most of what ppl are saying. How can we rank Samuel L Jackson as #1?!?!??!?! I get he has been in a lot of movies which have done well.. but you cant rely that on HIM being in the movie that ppl went to see it. I didnt even know he was in Iron Man! He is just lucky because he had such little parts in these movies and that is why is on the list.

    Where is Robert Dinero, Al Pacino? and best of all where is Leonardo Dicapiro!??!?!!!!! Titianc is the HIGHEST selling movie of ALL TIME and just yesterday I was watching Entertainment tonight and I seen that in 2010 Leonardo Dicapiro made 104 BILLION dollars for his movies – Inception and Shutter Island- so clearly this website is old n even if it wasnt old its still not accurte to me because being in a movie for 2 seconds shouldnt have and actor on this website.

    • hahahahaha LOL 104 billion
      c’mon kiddo make some sense do u even know how many zeros there are in 104 billion
      most successful ever movie is avatar and it made 2.78 billion dollar
      that must be 104 MILLION dollar or maybe u talking in Zimbabwean currency LoL

  9. I too am surprised that Dicaprio is not listed, or mentioned by other commentators until the end of the comments. He ruled in 2010… Forbes agrees. The list is incredibly flawed to begin with. Any reputable list, always considers inflation as it puts things in the proper perspective. It should also be leading roles and not just cameo’s. Jackson would surely disappear. In fact, I cant think of a film in which Jackson was the leading role….Snakes on a plane…that’s all I can think of. Brilliant role, but purely pseudo-satire.

  10. ArnoldSideways on

    I always thought the highest grossing actor was Christopher Lee. Considering he was in both the Star Wars prequels and the Lord of the Rings films:

    The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – $1,133,027,325
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – $926,284,377
    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – $924,288,297
    Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – $848,998,877

    Making his top four higher than the top 4 of any of the other actors here.

  11. Raul Fernandez on

    Betty Grable is the only female star to appear in the Top Ten Boxoffice Stars for 10 years in a row.

  12. Hey where is Johnny depp????? Pirates of the Caribbean all 3 and Alice in wonderland…. there it self you’ve got close to 4bn..

  13. This is a pretty good list, but it seems like the newer movies have skewed the ratings. I wish there was a list that adjusted for inflation. I think then People like Harrison Ford would be higher up.

    Also one that included international stars like Shahrukh Khan or Jackie Chan would be nice.

  14. How has noone mentioned that John Ratzenberger is also in The Empire Strikes Back? There’s another $500M right there…

    • Get real pal. Stupid low quality actors like Sahruk (however you spell it) should never even be mentioned in any Top 1000 actor list.

      • i think firstly you have to watch the list of worlds largest fan following actors……………after tis your doggish mind washed out……..

      • “however you spell it” can you not read? You obviously ignored it on purpose and pretended like you didnt know how to spell it.

        You are obviously ignorant and stupid if you don’t realise SRK’s fame and skills

  15. Johnny Depp


    He has Pirates 4 coming up as well, so that’s another 750 million-1 billion.

    Basically your list should be.

    1. Samuel L.
    2. Hugo Weaving
    3. Johnny Depp.

  16. Frank Welker should be #1, it says actor, he is an actor and acted in these movies. If you are going to list voice Tom Hanks or Samuel Jackson’s voice movies you have to list him which means he is #1.

    Oh and another thing is this list is not counting for inflation (ticket prices).

  17. Of course,d list is old..remember we are in 2011..d list should simply be(1)Robert denilro(2)Arnold Schwazzeneger(3)Nicolas Cage(4)Johnny Depp and (5)Leonardo Dicaprio

  18. If the dollars were adjusted for inflation I’d have to think that Richard Dreyfus would be near the top.

    Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    American Graffiti
    Mr. Holland’s Opus
    The Goodbye Girl
    Another Stakeout
    The Graduate
    Down and Out in Beverly Hills
    What About Bob?
    etc, etc,