Bing Search

Movie News

Natalie Portman<BR><A href="/movies/gallery.aspx?gallery=10635" 
type=Msn.Entertain.Server.WebControls.LinkablePhotoGallery target="" 
LinkType="Page" GLink="0" Arg="10635">More photos</A>
© Retna/ Natalie Portman
Hollywood's best actors for the buck

By Dorothy Pomerantz

Although studios often spend hundreds of millions of dollars on blockbusters full of explosions and computer-generated destruction, a small movie like "Black Swan" can often be a much better bet.

True, "Black Swan" won't spawn any lines of Nina and Lily dolls or a spin-off TV show. But the film made an enormous profit. It was produced for an estimated $13 million and grossed $329 million at the box office worldwide.

Search: Is Natalie Portman pregnant again?

Not only did the film help Natalie Portman win her first Best Actress Oscar, but the fantastic financial return helped land her at the top of our list of Hollywood's Best Actors for the Buck. We estimate that for every dollar Portman is paid by the studios, she returns $42.70. Compare that to Eddie Murphy, our most overpaid star, who returns $2.30 for every dollar he gets paid.

To compile our list, we used data on actors' earnings gathered for our Celebrity 100 list. Box-office grosses and budget estimates are from Box Office Mojo. We looked at the last three films each actor starred in over the last three years that opened in more than 2,000 theaters, calculating the return on investment for the studios who pay his or her salary. We didn't count movies where the actor was in a supporting or large ensemble role, and we didn't count animated movies. The actors who score well on this list tend to have small paydays and star in highly profitable movies.

Also on Photo gallery: Best Actors for the Buck

For Portman (who recently took a break from the big screen to be with her new son), we included "Black Swan," "No Strings Attached" and "Your Highness." Even though "Your Highness" was a flop, earning only $25 million on an estimated $50 million budget, that ding wasn't enough to seriously hurt her return-on-investment number when we included her other two hits. We did not count "Thor," since Portman was a supporting player in that movie.

"No Strings Attached," a romantic comedy co-starring Ashton Kutcher, was a film that most people probably don't realize was a hit. It earned a respectable $150 million at the box office globally, but that return was on a tiny budget of $25 million. Like "Black Swan," the film was another example of Portman starring in a movie with a low budget and a high box office, and because Portman doesn't demand a giant payday (yet), she's a fantastic investment.

Ranking second on our list is Kristen Stewart. For every dollar she gets paid, Stewart returns an average $40.60. Stewart is in the unusual situation of ranking high on this list and topping our Highest-Earning Actress list. Usually, if an actor is earning more than anyone else in Hollywood, it's hard for him or her to be considered a bankable investment. That high salary means the films have to do spectacularly to offer profitable returns to the studios.

Stewart was able to earn a ton over the last three years and offer a healthy return thanks to the "Twilight" franchise. Even though she was paid $25 million to star in the last two films, she was clearly worth the money. The "Twilight" films have grossed $3.3 billion at the global box office, and the final film, "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2," is still in theaters.

Her co-stars Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner also make our list. Pattinson ranks fourth, producing a $31.70 return for every dollar he is paid. Lautner ranks sixth with a $29.50 return.

All three of the actors were paid the same for the final "Twilight" movies. The differences in their return numbers comes from their other projects. This year Stewart had "Snow White and the Huntsman," which turned a nice profit, grossing $400 million on an estimated budget of $170 million.

Pattinson's other movies this year, "Bel Ami" and "Cosmopolis," weren't released in enough theaters to count for this list. The only other film we looked at for Pattinson was "Water for Elephants," which grossed $118 million at the global box office on a $38 million budget.

Lautner's one non-"Twilight" film was "Abduction," which didn't do great. The film cost only $35 million to make, but it grossed just $82 million at the box office worldwide, which means it probably turned just a small profit.

More from
The Top-Grossing Actors of 2012
Hollywood's Most Overpaid Stars
The Biggest Box Office Flops of 2012


Dec 29, 2012 7:09AM
What a sad state the movie industry is in today... Ms. Portman is marginal at best, and Ms. Stewart???? REALLY??? This poor woman couldn't act herself out of a wet paper bag.... Seriously! If it were not for the horribly wretched twiilight series she would be working at a walmart. Now that the studios have milked that mess for all it was worth what's she (Ms. Stewart) going to do now???  Get mad all you want you little tweeny boppers but it is a fact, she can't act. We'll see were she is on the list next year......
Dec 29, 2012 6:29AM
Seems these people made this list mostly on 1 or 2 films and that's not necessarily an indication for the future but they are all talented.
Dec 29, 2012 7:49AM
Needless to say that all of these individuals are way overpaid, regardless of their talent. Hollywood is nothing more than a bunch of individuals that actually feel they are deserving of the outrageous money that they receive for what they do and need to be brought back to reality and start living in the real world.
Dec 29, 2012 11:01AM
I must be completely missing 90% of the article because the names I see are all some of the worst actors in Hollywood that have been talked up way beyond their acting abilities. 
Dec 29, 2012 9:55AM
It's really funny reading blurbs from people who THINK they are conservatives.  A real conservative would NOT begrudge these people making every dime they could possibly make.  Nobody is telling you you have to go to the theatre and watch their movie, are they?
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
showtimes & tickets
Search by location, title, or genre: