Scarlett Johansson to Chris Evans: The highest-grossing actors of all time

What is remarkable is that nine of the top 10 leading actors who have achieved the most commercial success with their movies have one particular franchise to thank — Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Indeed, the MCU, which boasts some of the biggest box office hits in the world, contributed heavily to the overall standing of most of the world’s most successful actors.

In fact, eight of the nine have Avengers: Endgame (2019), which earned USD 2.7 billion, as their highest-grossing film in their respective careers. This is because the film features a large ensemble of all leading MCU actors till that point in pivotal roles.

But while the MCU may be the most significant in their cinematic repertoire, it isn’t the only accomplishment for the actors. Several of MCU’s top stars, such as Samuel L. Jackson and Bradley Cooper, are acting greats who have gained more critical fame outside of the MCU. Others such as Zoe Saldaña would still be among the most successful actors with or without MCU.

What is the overall highest-grossing stars list about?
It is important to note that a general look at the highest-grossing “actors” list would show some names that are either not actors in a purely professional capacity or are voice actors. In other words, they have never been leading actors in their lifetime. In The Numbers database, they are labelled as ‘stars.’

The world’s most successful actors and their box office haul
Scarlett Johansson

Image: Courtesy of Jay Maidment/Jay Maidment – © Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved./IMDb
Gross of all movies: USD 14,567,589,120

Johansson started her acting career with the fantasy comedy North (1994). She tasted both critical and commercial success with The Horse Whisperer (1998). Directed by the legendary Robert Redford, who also co-starred in it, the film grossed USD 186 million worldwide. It was the highest-grossing film of Johansson for 12 years until the release of the MCU movie Iron Man 2 (2010), in which she first played the universally famous superhero Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.


Her character is one of the original Avengers, which makes Johansson one of the main leads in all MCU films she has been part of. Her influence as the character has been so huge that she also got her own headline movie, Black Widow (2021), which grossed USD 379 million at the worldwide box office.

Due to the commercial success of her MCU films, Johansson topped Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid actresses twice — first in 2018 and then in 2019, with earnings of USD 46 million and USD 56 million, respectively.

Her two highest-grossing films excluding MCU movies are the adventure drama The Jungle Book (2016), in which she voiced Kaa, and the animated musical Sing (2016), in which she voiced Ash. While the former earned USD 953.5 million worldwide, the latter ended with USD 631 million.

Her highest-grossing live-action film outside of the MCU is Lucy (2014), which has South Korean acting тιтan Choi Min-sik as the main antagonist.


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