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©AP / Steven Spielberg
© AP / Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg tops list of the most influential celebrities

By Dorothy Pomerantz

Political history can be dry. It's hard to get people deeply involved in the minutiae of high office, no matter how high the societal stakes involved. So it's a testament to director Steven Spielberg's skill that his latest movie, "Lincoln," not only earned 12 Oscar nominations (and two wins) but a healthy $275 million at the box office. A full third of that money came from overseas, where it's even harder to sell an American period political drama.

Spielberg's amazing storytelling abilities have helped make him the most influential celebrity in America. In the latest edition of our annual Forbes/E-Score list, which is based on polling conducted by E-Poll Market Research, Spielberg scores a 47 for influence, which means that 47% of the U.S. population believes he is influential. That puts the director ahead of last year's top-ranked celeb, Oprah Winfrey.

"A celebrity's 'Influential' score represents how that person is perceived as influencing the public, their peers, or both," says Gerry Philpott, president of E-Poll Market Research. "If anyone doubts that Steven Spielberg has greatly influenced the public, think about how many will think for a second before going into the water this summer."

More from Forbes: In Pictures: The Most Influential Celebrities of 2013

For its E-Score Celebrity service, E-Poll Research ranks more than 6,600 bold-faced names based on 46 attributes.

Winfrey appears to have slipped in the public's eye. Her score last year was 49; this year 45% of Americans polled rated the talk-show star as influential. That could be because Winfrey is doing more behind the scenes to make her cable network OWN a success. Her work is starting to pay off: The network is finally cash positive thanks not only to Winfrey's must-see interviews with people like Lance Armstrong, but a string of new scripted comedies from Tyler Perry. Shows like "The Haves and Have Nots" are helping the network thrive without Winfrey having to do all of the heavy lifting herself.

In third place on the Forbes/E-Score list is George Lucas. The director is mostly retired now; since selling LucasFilm to Disney he has settled down with his new wife, Mellody Hobson, and their baby daughter. But with "Star Wars" about to get a new life, all the media and fanboy attention going to the world he created is keeping Lucas in the spotlight. The next iteration of the film is slated to hit theaters in 2015.

Another director, Ron Howard, ranks fourth on our list with a 41 influential rating. Unfortunately for Howard that influence didn't translate into people going to the theater to see his latest movie, "Rush." The racing film earned plenty of critical acclaim but only $90 million at the global box office.

Rounding out the top five is yet another director, Martin Scorsese. The 71-year-old auteur is getting tons of Oscar attention this year for "The Wolf of Wall Street," his three-hour opus about financial huckster Jordan Belfort. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio just won a Golden Globe for his performance in the movie. The film has grossed $100 million so far at the global box office. It will need to earn a lot more than that to turn a profit though. Studios only take home about half of ticket receipts and the film cost an estimated $100 million to produce.

More from Forbes:
In Pictures: Hollywood's Best Actors for the Buck, 2013
In Pictures: The Most Powerful Actors in Hollywood, 2013
In Pictures: The Most Powerful Actresses of 2013

Jan 15, 2014 5:58PM
I'm of the opinion few actors, directors and producers deserve the billions that ordinary people dump on them to make movies.. However, that being said I don't think there are any more influential, talented or creative geniuses in the industry then Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Ron Howard.. They have brought us some of the greatest movies and, perhaps, some of the most thoughtful movies in the history of the business..
I would add one more to the list, not so much for what he did, but for the way he dreamed things COULD be and that was Gene Roddenberry.. Maybe, Gene, in the distant future, if we survive, there will come a time when we will live in a world that no longer has boundaries of any kind but will be simply the home world of Human Beings..

Jan 15, 2014 4:02PM
Spielberg's name still carries weight in the film community, and probably will for as long as he's willing to work because his movies are always amazing and make money!!!  What else matters?
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