When I was editing my Weekend Fix video, cutting out clips and fast forwarding through parts of it to keep the time down, I cringed a little bit when I had to cut out the bit about Sandra Bullock being one of the few remaining box office draws. Indeed, gone are the days when nothing more than an actor’s name could draw audiences to the box office in droves. Very few movie stars actually exhibit consistent drawing power. Unlike the Old Hollywood Era of yesteryear, these days, big box office grosses have more to do with spectacle, story, or popular franchises than they have to do with the actors’ popularity. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few names that can truly mobilize the masses and get people into the theaters. Therefore, since I didn’t get to say my piece in my video, and it is List Wednesday, I present to you (in no particular order) these eight legitimate box office draws:
The fantastic $34.1 million debut of The Blind Side inspired this list, and Sandra Bullock has proven time and time again that she can open movies. Beautiful, hilarious, and yet somehow down-to-earth and relatable, Bullock comes across as funny and appealing to guys, and appealing as an everyday woman to her fellow females. While her main audience is certainly females, and most of her big box office hits are romantic comedies (Miss Congeniality – $106 million, Two Weeks Notice – $93 million, The Proposal – $163 million), she’s proven a few times that she’s more versatile than that. Look no further than Speed, with its $121 million gross, or The Blind Side‘s current box office performance- she’s a true-blue box office star.
I wrote about Sandler’s box office viability extensively a while ago. You can read that post here. All you have to know, is that this man is one of the smartest decision makers in Hollywood. He knows his target audience, and he constantly releases films that they want to see. Voila! You’ve got a formula for great box office results.
The go-to man for comedy. Jim Carrey, more than any other funnyman in the last 20 years, has established himself as the most popular comedian at the box office. Audiences love his brand of absurd facial expressions and heartfelt sincerity. He’s been trying to branch out lately, but when he sticks to high profile, big budget releases like Fun With Dick And Jane ($110 million), Bruce Almighty ($242 million), How The Grinch Stole Christmas ($260 million), Liar Liar ($181 million), and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ($108 million) features, he really hits his stride and rakes in the dollars. I personally love it when Carrey mixes his comedy persona with some more serious roles, like in The Truman Show, which resulted in great reviews great box office ($125 million).
People love to tear down Jennifer Aniston, saying she hasn’t been successful as a movie star and that she should have stuck to TV. I beg to differ. When Aniston sticks to the breezy romantic comedy genre, she’s remarkably popular. She’s found big success with films like Along Came Polly ($88 million), The Break Up ($118 million), Marley And Me ($143 million), He’s Just Not That Into You ($93 million). By my calculations, that makes someone a movie star.
Like Sandler above, way back in the day, I dedicated a whole post to Will Smith’s box office success. I don’t need to tell you how famous he is… Just read the old post and add 2008’s $227 million gross for Hancock to the mix.
The godfather of all celebrities has really established himself as a major box office force in the 2000s. He doesn’t have as much of a defined genre as some of the other people on this list, but he typically plays cocky, comedic characters, though he has done his fair share of dramas as well. In the last decade, he’s found success with Oceans Eleven ($183 million), Troy ($123 million), Oceans Twelve ($125 million), Mr. And Mrs. Smith ($186 million), Oceans Thirteen ($117 million), The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button ($127 million), and Inglorious Basterds ($120 million).
Heigl is certainly the youngest and least proven actor on this list, but in the last three years, since che burst onto the scene in TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, she has chosen her film roles wisely, and I have my eye on her as the young box office star with the most potential drawing power. She already has figured out that her bread and butter is in the romantic comedy genre. In 2007, she starred in Knocked Up, which grossed $146 million. In 2008, she took 27 Dresses to $76 million. And in 2009, she helped The Ugly Truth to $88 million. If she continues to pick strong roles within her genre, she’ll keep seeing strong returns.