The World’s Highest-Paid Actresses 2018: Scarlett Johansson Steals The Spotlight With $40.5 Million
Move over Emma Stone, Tinseltown has a new highest-paid actress. Scarlett Johansson leads this year’s ranking with $40.5 million in pretax earnings between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018, making her acting’s top-earning female lead.
Playing Black Widow in Marvel’s Avengers movies has become a lucrative role for Johansson, who quadruples her 2017 earnings to bump Stone from No. 1. She’ll return onscreen for the fourth installment of the superhero conglomerate series in 2019.
“The percent of budget cost have certainly skewed heavy, particularly on the Avengers movies, to cast now, whereas maybe in the early ones it was more visual effects or below the line,” said Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President and producer last year. “But that’s okay because [the actors] are the best effects.”
Johansson edges Angelina Jolie (No. 2; $28 million) who returns to the ranking thanks largely to her upfront pay for Maleficent 2. Jennifer Aniston (No. 3; $19.5 million) still earns big bucks 14 years after the conclusion of Friends, making most of her money by endorsing the likes of Emirates airlines, Smartwater and Aveeno. Expect her paycheck to skyrocket next year when production begins on her forthcoming Apple series with Reese Witherspoon (No. 5; $16.5 million), for which the pair will receive an estimated $1.25 million an episode.
Just ahead of Witherspoon, who rejoins the list with movie earnings and Big Little Lies paychecks, is Jennifer Lawrence. The Hunger Games actress’ two most recent movies, Mother! and Red Sparrow, underperformed at the box office. But she still commands big bucks for her turns in the X-Men series and a high-paying Dior contract.
Together, the world’s 10 highest-paid actresses tallied a combined $186 million between June 1, 2017, and June 1, 2018, before fees and taxes. Earnings estimates are based on data from Nielsen, ComScore, Box Office Mojo and IMDB, as well as interviews with industry insiders. All figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Overall, the cumulative total is up 16% from $172.5 million in 2017.
The list examined actresses the world over, including Australian Cate Blanchett (No. 8; $12.5 million) and Israeli Gal Gadot (No. 10; $10 million). Gadot, whose turn as Wonder Woman catapulted her to fame, is the only newcomer on the ranking. The Patty Jenkins-directed blockbuster tallied $821.8 million at the box office and scored a sequel, which accounts for the majority of Gadot’s payday this year. Though she only made an estimated six figures for the first installment, her increased quote, coupled with a Revlon endorsement, launched her among the highest-paid.
“There was such an obsession in the industry that teenage boys were the primary target box office,” said Jenkins, who helmed the smash hit and will be directing and writing its sequel for an estimated $7 million. “The industry has had a hard time shifting to acknowledging that they need to hit a more diverse audience.”
Currently, female characters fill only 28.7% of all speaking roles in film, according to a 2016 study. That lack of roles means that there are fewer opportunities for female stars to earn big bucks. This year, only two women broached the $20 million mark, down from three in 2017 and four in 2016. Notably absent: Amy Adams, Emma Watson, Charlize Theron and last year’s top-ranked Emma Stone, who all failed to earn above the $10 million cut off for this year’s list and dropped off the ranking.
Roles for women who are no longer young ingenues are few and far between. Yet the highest-paid actresses buck that trend: 60% of this year’s list members are over the age of 40. Some have forged their own roles to build opportunities for themselves: Witherspoon cofounded her Pacific Standard production company and Hello Sunshine media house to option rights for female-led parts. Others, like Aniston, supplement acting income with hefty endorsement deals.