La La Land – the city and its celluloid namesake – has been very kind to Emma Stone. At just 28 years old, the Hollywood star is this year’s highest-paid actress, banking $26 million pretax in our 12 month scoring period.
Stone has her earnings from the movie-musical to thank for the bulk of her payday, which also won her a Best Actress Oscar. Her portrayal of Mia, an aspiring actress and barista, garnered rave reviews and goosed the film to $445.3 million at the global box office.
“I moved here when I was 15 to start auditioning, I knew what it felt like to go on audition after audition,” Stone said backstage after accepting her Academy Award, speaking of the similarities between the role and her life. Those auditions have officially paid off: she scored her largest ever annual take-home and is the biggest dollar and percent gainer, year over year, of anyone on the list.
She bests Jennifer Aniston (No. 2; $25.5 million) who continues to bank millions more than a decade after Friends’ conclusion, thanks to regular roles in movies such as The Yellow Birds. But Aniston, 48, makes most of her money by endorsing the likes of Emirates airlines, Smartwater and Aveeno. Hair-care line Living Proof, which she owned a stake in, was sold to Unilever for an undisclosed amount in December 2016, adding to Aniston’s bottom line.
Former top-ranked Jennifer Lawrence comes in at No. 3, notching just over half her 2016 total. But don’t worry – she still made $24 million. Without a Hunger Games movie, most of Lawrence’s paychecks came from forthcoming Darren Aronofsky thriller Mother!, Red Sparrow and a longstanding Dior endorsement. Melissa McCarthy (No. 4; $18 million) and Mila Kunis (No. 5; $15.5 million) round out the top five.
Together, the world’s 10 highest-paid actresses tallied a combined $172.5 million between June 1, 2016, and June 1, 2017, before fees and taxes. Earnings estimates are based on data from Nielsen, ComScore, Box Office Mojo and IMDB, as well as interviews with industry insiders. All figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. The list examined actresses the world over, but no stars from Asia made the cut, as Fan Bingbing and Deepika Padukone dropped off due to quieter years.
Brit Emma Watson (No. 6) is this year’s sole newcomer after depositing her paycheck for Beauty and the Beast, which grossed $1.26 billion to become the top-grossing movie of the year so far. Though tech drama The Circle flopped, she managed to make $14 million in our time frame, thanks to the Mouse House.
“Every kid who grew up on Harry Potter felt instantly comfortable seeing Emma Watson on screen; even if she wasn’t Hermione Granger, she was Belle,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at industry tracker ComScore. “[Disney] could have plugged in any actor into that role but it wouldn’t have had that magic.”
This year, three women breached the $20 million mark, compared to four women in 2016. Notably absent this year: Scarlett Johansson, who failed to earn above the $11.5 million cut off for this year’s list. Overall, the cumulative total is down 16% from $205 million in 2016.
Their success remains remarkable considering that female characters fill only 28.7% of all speaking roles in film according to a 2016 study. Roles for women above 40 are even fewer and farther between, which makes it all the more notable that 60% of this year’s list members are over the age of 40. These women have forged their own roles, such as Atomic Blonde producer and star Charlize Theron, 42, (No. 6; $14 million) who spent five years developing the spy project.
“We’ve had moments like this, where women really showcase themselves and break glass ceilings,” Theron told Variety. “And then we don’t sustain it. Or there’s one movie that doesn’t do well, and all of a sudden, no one wants to make a female-driven film.”
As the ticketing receipts of Wonder Woman and Girls Trip show, strong female characters have never been more bountiful at the box office. Here’s hoping their success engenders more roles for a wider range of actresses in years to come. – Written by ,