Tying at the top of our list are Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker, who each earned an estimated $30 million. Jolie has made a name for herself as an actress who can easily handle action, drama and even directing.
She wrote and directed the upcoming film In the Land of Blood and Honey, a romance set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War. That film follows up her two big-budget 2010 action movies, Salt and The Tourist. The latter, which co-starred Johnny Depp, initially looked like it was going to be a flop after a paltry opening weekend box-office haul of $16 million. But thanks mostly to the overseas market, the film went on to earn $280 million, cementing Jolie’s appeal abroad.
Parker still makes most of her money off of Sex and the City. She earns big from reruns of the TV show thanks to her dual role as star and producer, and the second movie, which hit screens in 2010, performed pretty well. It wasn’t as big a hit as the first movie (which earned $415 million) but it brought in a respectable $290 million.
True to the values of Carrie Bradshaw, Parker has become a beauty icon. She makes money from her successful line of perfumes including Lovely, Covet and NYC, which brought in $18 million in 2010, and she recently started helping design clothes for the fashion line Halston.
To compile our earnings numbers we talked to agents, lawyers, producers and other industry insiders to come up with an estimate for what each actress earned between May 1, 2010 and May 1, 2011. Earnings consist of pretax gross income. Management, agent and attorney fees are not deducted.
Ranking third behind Jolie and Parker are Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, who each brought in $28 million.
Aniston has had more than her share of flops, like 2009’s Management, which earned less than $1 million at the U.S. box office. But lately, even films that looked like they were going to flop have turned out to be hits. The Bounty Hunter opened to a weak $20 million in 2010 but went on to earn $136 million on a $40 million budget. One of her most recent films, Just Go With It, co-starring Adam Sandler, is her fourth highest earning film in the U.S.
Witherspoon hasn’t been as lucky as Aniston at the box office lately. He romantic comedy How Do You Know, flopped, earning only $50 million on a budget of $120 million. It hasn’t hurt her quote though and she’ll still earn big for the upcoming romantic comedy This Means War, which is scheduled to hit theaters in early 2012.
Ranking fifth is Julia Roberts. Her most recent film, Larry Crowne, may have flopped its opening weekend (earning only $13 million to rank 4th) but the actress can still command a big pay check and a portion of a film’s back end when she chooses. Roberts earned $20 million between May 2010 and May 2011.
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