July 22, 2008 -- Tinseltown's leading ladies may generate more tabloid ink, but when it comes to blockbuster paychecks, Hollywood is still a man's town.
In an era where risk-averse studio executives have declared men the more reliable movie stars--and the more desirable moviegoers--perhaps it's no surprise that they are also the medium's top earners. The reality: Hollywood's 10 best-paid actors out-earned Hollywood's 10 best-paid actresses 2-to-1 over the course of the year.
Collectively, the big screen's leading men took home an estimated $487 million this year, compared with the leading ladies' haul of $244.5 million.
Will Smith leads the pack of Hollywood's best-paid actors, banking an estimated $80 million over the course of the year. Frequently called the hardest-working man in Hollywood, Smith has proved that no matter the genre--be it sci-fi thriller (Warner Bros.' I Am Legend) or sappy drama (Sony's The Pursuit of Happyness)--he can deliver an audience.
The former Fresh Prince of Bel Air star also set a theatrical record this year. Thanks to the commercial success of this summer's anti-superhero flick Hancock, Smith is the first actor in Hollywood history to have eight straight movies eclipse $100 million at the box office.
Coming in second on the list is Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp, an actor who is known to vacillate between commercial work and artier fare. He still managed to pull down $72 million this year.
In this case, the bold-faced star followed up his three turns as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney's $2.76 billion Pirates franchise with the Stephen Sondheim serial-killer musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Flat Street. Though the latter hardly set box office records, it did earn Depp an Oscar nomination.
With $55 million, Eddie Murphy comes in third among Tinseltown's top earners, thanks to a slew of family-friendly hits. The long-reigning master of disguise continues to prove his range on-screen, playing notable roles in everything from animated flicks (DreamWorks' Shrek) to goofball comedies (DreamWorks' Norbit) to musical remakes (DreamWorks' Dreamgirls). The latter earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Then there's Austin Powers star Mike Myers, who is tied for third on this list with earnings of $55 million, due in large part to the success of the hit animated franchise Shrek.
But when it comes to live-action fare, the comedy chameleon's ride has been far less smooth in recent years. Despite a stellar cast (including Justin Timberlake and Jessica Alba) and plenty of promotion, Myers' summer comedy The Love Guru failed to deliver at the box office. To date, the Paramount flick has generated only $31.8 million domestically.
Titanic's Leonardo DiCaprio rounds out the top five, raking in $45 million during the year. He's the unique movie star who can get $20 million for work in R-rated adult dramas, which, because of viewer age restrictions, have limited ability to generate big box office numbers.
Though his flicks are rarely blockbusters, DiCaprio's work can create a sizable amount of Academy Award season buzz. In fact, three of his last five flicks-- Gangs of New York, The Aviator and Departed--were nominated for Best Picture. The latter took home the Oscar.