It’s hard to overstate what a huge phenomenon The Avengers was this year. Bringing together superhero giants like Iron Man, Thor and Captain America could have been a huge, confusing disaster. Instead, the film scored the largest U.S. opening weekend of all time with $207 million and went on to become not only the year’s highest-grossing film but the third highest-grossing film of all time.
The film also earned nearly universal praise from critics, an exceptional feat for a non-Batman superhero movie. The cast and crew could be up for some Oscars when nominations are announced January 10th.
In the meantime, we have an award of our own to hand to the film’s star, Robert Downey Jr. Because of The Avengers’ $1.5 billion global box office haul, Downey ranks as the highest-grossing actor of the year.
For the sake of this list, we’re not looking at what each individual actor earned. We are looking at how much each actor’s films brought in at the global box office over the course of the year. We are only giving each actor box office credit for movies he or she starred in.
I realize many people out there are going to shout at me that The Avengers is an ensemble film and therefore all of the main actors should get credit for the $1.5 billion.
But I’m only including Downey for the film. Yes, The Avengers are a group but Downey is clearly the main star. Much of the film relied on Downey’s charm and humor and when all the money is counted up, he’ll earn more than his fellow superheroes.
While Twilight is another film with multiple stars, I gave each of them credit for the fantastic box office performance of Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final film in the Twilight series. So far the film has earned $779 million and it’s still going strong in theaters.
Of the three main stars (who all earn the same amount at this point), Kristen Stewart earned the most at the box office this year: $1.1 billion. In addition to Twilight, she had Snow White and the Huntsman, which hit theaters this summer. The film turned into a nice little hit bringing in $397 million at the global box office and establishing Stewart as a movie star who will have no problem moving beyond the Twilight world.
Stewart’s costar Robert Pattinson ranks fifth on our list with $793 million. Like Stewart, he had non-Twilight films this year but unlike Stewart, his weren’t big hits. Cosmopolis and Bel Ami earned $14 million combined. Taylor Lautner also lands on our list but in 6th place. He only had Breaking Dawn this year. For a while there, Lautner was being heralded as the next big action star but his last non-Twilight film, Abduction, disappointed in 2011 with only $82 million at the global box office.
Rounding our our top five are Christian Bale in 3rd place with $1 billion, thanks to The Dark Knight Rises, and Daniel Craig in 4th place with $951 million.
Craig’s big movie this year, Skyfall, was expected to be a hit but it’s unlikely anyone anticipated the 23rd James Bond film would be on its way to $1 billion at the global box office. Before Skyfall, the highest-grossing Bond film was Casino Royale with $600 million. Skyfall, which is still going strong in theaters, has already out-earned that film by $350 million. Expect to see Craig as Bond for at least a few more years.