Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our Leading Ladies

     Last year Sandra Bullock bucked the trend in a big way. First her romantic comedy The Proposal grossed $320 million on an estimated budget of $40 million. That would be impressive enough, but then The Blind Side hit theaters five months later. Based on a true story about a white family that took in an African-American football prodigy, the film earned an amazing $310 million at the box office on an estimated budget of only $30 million. Bullock cut her usual fee to star in the movie and reaped a large share of the film's profits in return. Between her earnings on The Proposal and The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock earned $56 million between June 2009 and June 2010, tops among Hollywood's leading ladies. Add in a messy divorce that had her on the front of tabloids almost every week, the adoption of a baby that she will now raise on her own and her first Oscar, and Bullock had one hell of a year. All of that helped land her eighth on our annual Celebrity 100 list.

    Reese Witherspoon ranks second on our list of Hollywood's best-paid actresses with a take of $32 million over the past year. Witherspoon hasn't been seen on screen since 2008's Four Christmases (she lent her voice to the animated film Monsters Vs. Aliens). But she sits close to the top of our list this year thanks to upfront pay from two movies: How Do You Know from director James L. Brooks and the film adaptation of Water for Elephants. Witherspoon also earns as an "ambassador" for Avon.

    To figure out actresses' earnings we talked to agents, managers, producers and lawyers to determine what the stars earned as upfront pay on movies they are currently shooting, as well as back-end pay earned after a movie hit theaters. We also looked at any money actresses might have earned from perfume and clothing lines and from ad campaigns.

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