Studios are notoriously stingy when it comes to paying young actors for the first film in a planned franchise. Forget about the $10 million they would have had to shell out to get a big name -- an up-and-comer is lucky to get $800,000.
That changes dramatically when it comes to the third and fourth films in a series. Suddenly, the star becomes indispensable and the studio has to pay up. And that's why Kristen Stewart has vaulted to the top of Forbes' annual list of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood.
At this point, could anyone else play Bella Swan in "Twilight"? Probably not; if the studio tried to switch in another actress, fans would revolt. So for the last two "Twilight" films, Stewart has been able to demand an estimated $12.5 million per film, plus a share of the profits.
Her two co-stars, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, get paid the same, but Stewart earned more than them this year because of "Snow White and the Huntsman." Stewart's earnings between May 2011 and May 2012 totaled $34.5 million, helping her rank 43rd on our Celebrity 100 list. (The list measures a combination of money and fame.)
At 22, Stewart is the youngest woman on our list by 16 years. The next youngest is Kristen Wiig who is 38. Last year Stewart ranked 5th on our list of the Highest-Paid Actresses tied with Julia Roberts. This year Roberts ranked 6th.
Women are still paid less than men in the movie business. The 10 actresses who make up our list earned a total $200 million compared to the $361 million brought in by our top 10 men.
To determine who the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood are, we considered upfront pay, profit participation, residuals, endorsements and advertising work. We talked to manager, agents, lawyers and other in-the-know folks to come up with our estimates. We did not deduct for things like agent fees or the expenses related to being a celebrity.
Ranking second on our list is Cameron Diaz. Her recent comedy "Bad Teacher" was a surprise hit, bringing in $216 million at the global box office. That's a decent haul under any circumstance but an especially good result for "Bad Teacher," which cost only $20 million to make. Diaz had a deal to take home a nice chunk of the film's profits, which were substantial.
Add that to her earnings for films like "What to Expect" and "The Green Hornet," and we estimate Diaz earned $34 million between May 2011 and May 2012.
Kristen Stewart - $34.5 Million
At the young age of 22 Stewart earned more than any other actress between May 2011 and May 2012. Most of that money came from "Twilight" where Stewart stars as Bella Swan. But she also earned big buck for starring in "Snow White and the Huntsman."
Cameron Diaz - $34 Million
Diaz' 2011 film "Bad Teacher" was a quiet hit. It earned $216 million on a tiny budget of $20 million. That massive profit helped Diaz earn $34 million between May 2011 and May 2012. The funny lady took a smaller upfront on the film in exchange for a large share of the profits.
Sandra Bullock - $25 Million
Bullock's most recent film, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," was not a box office hit but the actress is still in demand. Her 2009 film, "The Blind Side" was the kind of massive hit studios dream about. Bullock earned $25 million during our time frame thanks to money she still brings home from "The Blind Side" and the upcoming big-budget sci-fi flick, "Gravity."
Angelina Jolie - $20 Million
Even when she's not starring in a big studio flick, Jolie still earns millions from residuals and endorsement deals for companies like Louis Vuitton. Jolie also attracts plenty of attention wherever she goes.
Charlize Theron - $18 Million
Theron is in the middle of a major career surge that kicked off with the 2011 movie "Young Adult." The film might not have earned a lot of money (it brought in only $23 million) but it gave Theron the kind of buzz she hasn't had in several years. Following up with "Snow White and the Huntsman" and "Prometheus" didn't hurt. Theron is also the high-profile face of Dior.
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