Who Are Hollywood’s Most Valuable Stars?

Posted on July 24, 2012 /Lists


Vulture has released a list of the most valuable stars in Hollywood. We skimmed through the list of 100 actors and found seven familiar faces of color who were fortunate enough to make the cut.  How exactly did the entertainment blog come up with the list? Editors figured in the following factors:

1. Domestic Box Office. Only movies that the actor either starred or had a strong supporting role in were counted; basically, roles in which they were used to sell the film. (No cameos and no animated films: In too many cases, a star’s presence felt irrelevant to these kid-driven movies, and the actors’ voices are usually dubbed over when these films go overseas. Also, movies by recently anointed stars in a supporting role were discounted if the films came out before the star had a recognizable name, and therefore had no value in its trailer or marketing.) Grosses were included through Monday, July 22, 2012.

To get final box-office numbers for each actor, Enten used a weighted median instead of a straight average (the median being the middle value in a list of grosses), as the average would give an artificial advantage to stars who had one giant, numbers-skewing blockbuster, as with Sam Worthington and Avatar. (Worthington’s straight-up box-office average when including the $760 million-U.S.-grossing blockbuster would be $147.8 million; without Avatar, it’s only $60.3 million. Worthington’s median number, $57.4 million, is a more accurate representation of his box-office power.) As Enten explains, “The median takes care of the outlier problem. It requires an actor to be successful over a slew of films to be considered to have a high median. At the same time, you might have an actor who decides to star in an independent or just had one bad film. An average would weight this film awfully high if, say, the film made $5 million or less. The median ensures that an actor’s box-office worth is based on the majority of their films.” In order to give greater value to movies that an actor starred in as opposed to playing a supporting role before assessing a median, Enten weighted his or her grosses (and, in the Critics’ Score category, Metacritic scores) so that lead roles were counted twice, while supporting roles were only given half a lead’s value. And finally, he gave a small mathematical boost to actors who appeared in the most films, to play down the artificial advantage of those who ranked disproportionately high for taking fewer swings at bat.

2. Overseas Box Office. Studios rarely make a decision about green-lighting a film without considering the lucrative worldwide market, which can multiply a movie’s domestic gross by a large factor. These grosses were weighted in the same manner as domestic box office.

3. Studio Value. Vulture’s Claude Brodesser-Akner asked a panel of five top-level studio execs (who must remain nameless, since they’ll be green-lighting or packaging movies starring these actors) to grade each actor on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how much more gross their casting would add to a project with a promising script in his or her proven wheelhouse — for example, a good romantic comedy for Sandra Bullock or a solid action script for Dwayne Johnson. Their assigned scores for each actor were averaged to determine his or her Studio Value.

4. Likability. How generally positive does the U.S. population feel about each actor? The market research firm E-Poll provided us with the percentage of the public who find each star “likable,” based on the company’s regular polling about attitude toward celebrities.

5. Oscars. While an Oscar win does not necessarily mean that a movie did extremely well (2009 Best Picture The Hurt Locker made just $17 million), winning a trophy means an actor can — and will — forever be advertised as “Academy Award winning/nominated … ,” which marketers consider a valuable imprimatur. This is the only category that used a career-long tally, as there is no expiration date on Oscars when it comes to publicity. For the Oscar score, nominations were given one point, wins two points, and then all eight categories were normalized to a 1-to-10 scale so they could be balanced to come up with each star’s value.

6. Critics’ Score. We counted Metacritic scores of each actor’s movies according to the rules outlined in the Domestic Box Office section. Hence, an actor who doesn’t appear in giant blockbusters but whose movies are consistently well-reviewed might gain value as someone whose presence implies his or her new project is a “quality” film.

7. Magazine Covers. When an actor is picked as the cover boy/girl for a major, non-tabloid magazine (Vanity Fair, GQ, Vogue, and 29 others were counted), it’s a sign that the public is interested in a way that goes beyond tabloid curiosity and that the actor has the power to move newsstand sales. These are the magazines that a publicist would want their client to be on the cover of.

8. Tabloid Value. Vulture polled three editors of gossip publications, asking them to grade each actor on a 1-to-10 scale based on how much interest readers have in their private lives, whether for salacious details or a wholesome demand for pictures of baby bumps and family trips to the park. (Our panel: Jared Eng, founder and editor-in-chief of JustJared.com; Justin Ravitz, senior editor atUSmagazine.com; and Jared Shapiro, editorial director of news and entertainment at In Touch Weekly and Life & Style Weekly.) As with Studio Value, their scores were averaged.

Vulture's 100 Most Valuable Stars List  In case you were wondering who beat out Will Smith for the No. 1 spot, it was Robert Downy Jr. Read the full list here.