Near the end of every year, Forbes releases their rankings of the top actors in Hollywood based on their box-office value and earnings (along with a list of the most overpaid actors, which is always interesting). This year, Scarlett Johansson tops the list of the highest-grossing actors in Hollywood, followed closely by Marvel co-stars Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., who tied for second place. What makes Johansson’s ranking even more notable, however, is her earnings — while RDJr. placed ninth on this year’s list of the highest-paid actors with $33 million, Johansson ranked third on the actress list with $25 million.
The gender pay gap unfortunately endures in Hollywood, where the highest-paid actress of 2016 — Jennifer Lawrence — earned about $20 million less than Dwayne Johnson, this year’s highest-paid actor (though Lawrence edged him out by $1 million in the salary department). When it comes to this year’s top-grossing actors (calculated based on their global ticket sales), Lawrence and Johnson didn’t even make Forbes’ top 10:
- Scarlett Johansson – $1.2 billion
- Robert Downey Jr. – $1.15 billion (tie)
- Chris Evans – $1.15 billion (tie)
- Margot Robbie – $1.1 billion
- Amy Adams – $1.04 billion
- Ben Affleck – $1.02
- Henry Cavill – $870 million
- Ryan Reynolds – $820 million
- Felicity Jones – $805 million
- Will Smith – $775 million
Each of these lists are interesting in their own right, but when you examine them together, there are some notable discrepancies. Of this year’s top five highest-grossing actors, three are women (yay!) — yet Johansson makes less than her Marvel co-stars, Amy Adams earned $13.5 million (significantly lower than Akshay Kumar, the actor who placed 10th on the list of highest-paid men; he earned $31 million), and Margot Robbie didn’t even place in the top 10 highest-paid actresses list (nor did Felicity Jones, but that may very well change next year for both of them).
Then there’s the curious case of Will Smith, who ranked second on this year’s list of the most overpaid actors, and brings just $5 in at the box-office for every dollar he’s paid. The list of overpaid actors, however, is based on a calendar year that ends in June, which might explain why Smith was both one of the year’s top-grossing stars and one of its most overpaid.
It’s not all gender inequality, however. Thanks to Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds has become one of our top-grossing entertainers, but he doesn’t even place on the list of top-earners. And with Jennifer Lawrence’s box-office returns creeping into underwhelming territory, we could see her land on next year’s list of overpaid stars. Chris Evans, meanwhile, continues to be one of the top-grossing actors, but fails to place on the highest-paid list — which is just kind of weird.
On the upside, Scarlett Johansson’s place as the highest-grossing actor of the year isn’t surprising — in fact, it’s well-earned, given her charisma, talents and proclivity for choosing interesting roles, often in unconventional blockbusters like Lucy and the upcoming Ghost in the Shell.