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This is What Money Looks Like: Hollywood's Highest Paid Actresses...Is There A Magic Formula?

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood July 7, 2011 at 6:36AM

Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker lead the pack of women racking in the dough Hollywood-style. Gender-transcending movie star Jolie is no surprise (she would easily double her earnings if she said yes to every project she was offered), while Parker's success is due mostly to the Sex and the City franchise and her perfume line. The rest of the top ten: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon at $28 million each, Julia Roberts and Kristen Stewart at $20 million, Katherine Heigl ($19 million), Cameron Diaz ($18 million), Sandra Bullock ($15 million) and Meryl Streep ($10 million).
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Thompson on Hollywood

Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker lead the pack of women racking in the dough Hollywood-style. Gender-transcending movie star Jolie is no surprise (she would easily double her earnings if she said yes to every project she was offered), while Parker's success is due mostly to the Sex and the City franchise and her perfume line. The rest of the top ten: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon at $28 million each, Julia Roberts and Kristen Stewart at $20 million, Katherine Heigl ($19 million), Cameron Diaz ($18 million), Sandra Bullock ($15 million) and Meryl Streep ($10 million).

Here's the complete breakdown at Forbes. From May 2010-May 2011, the ten have totaled earnings of $218 million. What do they have in common? Is there a recipe for their success?

The answer is no.

Each is situated in a different position within the Hollywood machine and earns their dollars from a variety of sources. Consider some random statistics: Of the ten, at least three have their own perfume (Parker, Aniston, Witherspoon), seven are mothers (all but Aniston, Stewart and Diaz), and five are married. Stewart is the youngest at 21, and Streep is the oldest at 62.

Most likely to stay on the top ten for at least five years? Jolie.

Least likely? Heigl.

Biggest question mark? The gifted but inconsistent Stewart, with the Twilight series coming to an end, has yet to prove that she can carry a non-Twilight movie.

The others have had their ups (Roberts' Eat, Pray, Love with $204.5 million gross worldwide), downs (Witherspoon's How Do You Know with only $48.6 million worldwide on a budget of $120 million) and in Heigl's case, surprising success despite consistently sub-par critical response.

In five years Jolie could be the only star-earner still on the Forbes list. Times they are a changing.

This article is related to: Box Office, Franchises, Headliners, Hollywood, Celebs, Media, Marketing, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, Kristen Stewart


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.