The Top-Earning Actresses

November 6, 2011 by staff 

The Top-Earning Actresses, Drew Barrymore, Eddie Murphy: Officially overpaid, says Forbes, When she gets a look at the latest list on, Drew Barrymore won’t be smiling anymore. The magazine ranked her first on its list of “Hollywood’s Most Overpaid Actors,” reporting that her films only bring in 40 cents for every dollar she is paid as an actress — and that’s without taking into account the fall TV bust Charlie’s Angels, on which Barrymore served as an executive producer.

Eddie Murphy had the unenviable fate of taking second place, though his return ($2.70 for every dollar he’s paid) was significantly higher than Barrymore’s. While the jury is still out whether Tower Heist (opening today) and his stint as Oscars host will bring Murphy the gold in 2012, his fate for 2011 is sealed. See what other big names made the list after the jump.

For this list, Forbesanlyzed Hollywood’s 40 top-earning actors and their respective compensation for their starring roles in the last five years and compared it to the operating income on those films. Nicolas Cage (#6) might be the person on the list who is simultaneously the most predictable and unexpected entrant. As a go-to guy for huge action flicks, it seems like he’d generate healthy revenue stream. Then you remember his recent films include Season of the Witch, Drive Angry, and more recently Trespass, which earned a paltry $16,000 in its first weekend. Yes, friends, that’s roughly the going rate for a Honda Fit.

Cage’s Trespass co-star Nicole Kidman also didn’t fare well, landing in tenth place. Her ex Tom Cruise — another tentpole action star with a questionable ability to return on his asking price — took ninth place, though perhaps December’s Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol can turn things around for him next year.

It was a tough year for funnymen, as Will Ferrell (#3), Adam Sandler (#7), and Vince Vaughn (#8) all landed in the top 10. A silver lining for Ferrell: He took first place in 2009 and 2010, so dropping to third is actually an improvement.

Kidman and Cage’s fellow Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon and Denzel Washington rounded out the pack in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Perhaps it was less of a surprise for Witherspoon, whom also ranked in this year’s list of highest-paid actresses. She brought back $3.55 for every dollar she was paid. It seems even the high-profile fan draw of co-star Robert Pattinson in April’s Water for Elephants couldn’t bring her back from romcom flop How Do You Know.

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