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Scarlett's Black Widow Dough and 2018's Highest Paid Actresses

I always find Forbes annual list of highest paid actresses suspect because when you dig into it you realize the huge sums aren't necessarily for acting but for being spokespersons for various products or fashion houses. Of course that requires the celebrity that comes from acting hence the fusion of commerce and art. With some mainstays of the list, like Jennifer Aniston who is on it every year, the money is largely for commercials with the films being commercials for her celebrity to keep the commercial endorsement business going. With others the money is largely the frequent hit films (Melissa McCarthy). Franchises definitely help: Cate Blanchett and Scarlett Johansson both made Marvel money this past year, Angelina Jolie's big number is her upfront pay for Maleficent 2, and Gal Gadot's is her sudden cash-in on her new celebrity from helping to make Wonder Woman such a massive global hit in 2017. 

The 2018 list goes like so...

  1. Scarlett Johansson $40.5 million
  2. Angelina Jolie $28 million
  3. Jennifer Aniston $19.5 million
  4. Jennifer Lawrence $18 million
  5. Reese Witherspoon $16.5 million
  6. Mila Kunis $16 million
  7. Julia Roberts $13 million
  8. Cate Blanchett $12.5 million
  9. Melissa McCarthy $12 million
  10. Gal Gadot $10 million (first time on the list)

On the list last year but didn't manage it this time: Emma Watson, Emma Stone, Amy Adams, and Charlize Theron.

If you controlled the world which 10 actresses would be showered with money for 2018?

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Reader Comments (23)

Other than We're the Millers, which is on TV almost every night, I can't honestly name 5 movies Jennifer Aniston has been in off the top of my head... and I know it's A LOT!

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Finally I got what Blanchett is doing in The House with a Clock in Its Walls.

August 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterMurtada Elfadl

Apart from Melissa McCarthy and only in Action/Fantasy films Angelina Jolie and sometimes Jennifer Lawrence none of the others can really open a film.

Julia isn't bothered but is doing good work and she's the most successful female movie star ever,Aniston sure made that Friends character go a long way I mean who really likes her,Don't talk to me about Mila Kunis a non event,Gadot is not yet tested,Reese is making less and less at the BO,Blanchett never was BO and Scarlett needs to start acting again.

Charilize is iffy BO wise also but is a Star,Emma isn't America's Sweetheart or a star yet,Emma Watson NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,Amy should be BO but she's not but well respected and liked which with gr8 acting chops makes directors seek her out.

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Maybe Streep would be on the list as well if she supplemented her celebrity statues with a clothing line, perfumes, and multiple commercials....
I mean Jennifer Aniston......good grief is it 1998?

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Given the kinds of movies that lead to such salaries (and endorsements) I think it's entirely sensible that Scarlett and Angelina Jolie lead the pack. As to other actresses I wish would be given the kinds of opportunities to star in such things/could make them work, Eva Green and Naomie Harris leap to mind. Maybe Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Emma Stone. Tessa Thompson. And Marion Cotillard, Cate Blanchett, and Nicole Kidman all surely have another big villain in a blockbuster performance in them.

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

I couldn't care less.

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I had some interest in these when you could actually tell what their movie salaries were, and see how they compared to men's movie salaries, but now that they combine movie salary plus commercial endorsements into one lump sum ... it's meaningless.

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom Ford

Jamie -- i recall that Meryl did make the list once in the past 10 years or so. But it waas just for movie salaries so it must have been a year where she was in two or three things.

August 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Patty Clarkson, Regina Hall, Sarah Paulson, Tilda Swinton and Rachel Weisz deserve all the dough. They've truly been the MVPs of the last few years on TV and in film.

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

Kim Khardashian beats all of them, sadly.

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJF

SCAR-JO!!!! SCAR-JO!!!!! SCAR-JO!!!!!!!! SCAR-JO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU TALK 'BOUT AN ASS-WHOOPIN'!!!!! YEAH! SCAR-JO!!!!!!! SCAR-JO!!!!!!!!!! SCAR-JO!!!!!!!!!!!!! SCAR-JO!!!!!!!!!!! SCAR-JO STUNNA!!!!!! ONE MORE TIME!!!!!! ONE MORE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

$$$$ to:
Amy Adams
Jessica Chastain
Viola Davis
Angelina Jolie
Juliette Binoche
Angela Bassett
Sarah Paulson
Melanie Lynskey
Tatiana Maslany
Ellen Wong

(Although W.J.'s list makes me want to revise...)

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Worth noting that the list once again is all white

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

I would like to hand lots of money to the following 10 ladies provided they use it to finance their dream projects that are having trouble getting off the ground (whatever those are) or use it to avoid big paycheck roles so they can concentrate on roles that will give them something exciting to act

Julianne Moore
Viola Davis (please make that movie with Tony Kushner you were once planning)
Tilda Swinton (please make that Auntie Mame movie you were once planning)
Michelle Pfeiffer
Scarlett Johansson (i need more "Under the Skin"s, soon!)
Regina King
Gemma Chan (currently obsessed after the double whammy of "Humans" and "Crazy Rich Asians")
Greta Gerwig
Vera Farmiga (please do something incredible soon. enough with the generic roles)
Sally Hawkins

August 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

AlexD -- Fan Bingbing is apparently suddenly having lots of issues with her finances :(

August 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel- I think it was 2009- Julie and Julia, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and It’s Complicated.

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Yay to Scarlett. all those buffoonery regarding her trans casting is so stupid, but she can just laugh it off with all those moneyyy!

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

And by Regina Hall, I meant Regina King of American Crime, Seven Seconds, The Boondocks and soon-to-be If Beale Street Could Talk. (I can't believe I did that!!!) Due respect to Ms. Hall, who was fun in Girls Trip but hasn't had many chances to shine.

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

Don’t retract your Regina Hall proclamation! She’s an absolute gift and has started in some great roles over the years (Girls Trip, About Last Night, the Scary Movie franchise...yep).

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTeppo2

I would go with the one with talent that make a difference in no particular order:

Julianne Moore
Isabelle Huppert
Glenn Close
Charlize Theron
Tilda Swinton
Michelle Williams
Meryl Streep
Dale Dickey
Sarah Paulson
Ann Dowd

Reading my list it's probably my 10 favorite actress right now...

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterstjeans

I like Jennifer Aniston OK, but I don't think she can really act. She does commercials for Aveeno (skin care) and some kind of water; that's where her money comes from.

August 18, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrrrich7

I latching onto movie franchises much better than latching onto ad campaigns? Either way, you get major bucks in way that is not highly dependent on your talents. I mean sure, Blanchett can kill it in anything, but this list is never about talents.

August 18, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterkin

Jennifer Aniston gets those contracts because she's perceived as relatable. Yes, her films are consistently terrible, and I'm a little surprised someone like Jennifer Garner, who also went through a high-profile divorce and has a better filmography, hasn't taken her place.

Scarlett has always been a so-so actress (even in movies I love, like Lost in Translation) whose dopey public comments reveal her limited intellect. I can understand the other names on the list as they have some combination of incredible beauty, talent, movie star charisma, and/or relatability/likability, but I think she's just very lucky. A lot of women in Hollywood could do what she does.

August 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

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