Cashing in on their star power

While news of the economic downturn had Hollywood in a tizzy, studios still made mega bucks at the box-office, thanks to the might of some of the industry's biggest stars.

The Dark Knight stole everyone's thunder this year, emerging as the year's biggest hit, but it was the sultry Angelina Jolie who climbed the ranks to become this year's most bankable star.

Emirates Business takes a look at the top 10 Hollywood heavyweights of 2008:

1 ANGELINA JOLIE WANTED, KUNG FU PANDA AND CHANGELING 

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $1.03 BILLION

Moveover Julia Roberts. Jolie is officially Hollywood's highest paid actress, with a pay package of $20 million (Dh78m) per film.

The reason? This mother of six had three big releases this year, two of which went on to become major blockbusters. Wanted ($342m box-office net) saw her play a sexy assassin, while Kung Fu Panda ($631.8m) had her voicing the animated character Tigress. But it was Jolie's acclaimed performance in Clint Eastwood's Changeling that had critics and fans rooting for her, proving yet again her global box-office power.

2 CHRISTIAN BALE-HEATH LEDGER THE DARK KNIGHT

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $996.6M

The tag-team of Bale and the late Ledger created box-office history when The Dark Knight broke records with the biggest opening, the highest five-week collections, the most profitable franchise... you get the drift.

The Christopher Nolan-directed film saw Bale reprise his role as Batman; however, it was Ledger's Joker who really stole the caped crusader's thunder with his breakthrough performance. Ledger's untimely death only resulted in fans lining up outside cinemas for days to grab the hottest ticket of the year.

3 SHIA LABEOUF INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL AND EAGLE EYE 

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $960M

The future of Hollywood seems secure as it rests safely on the shoulders of this 22-year-old star. LaBeouf, who has iconic director Steven Speilberg as an industry godfather, proved his mettle with last year's Transformers ($708m) and Disturbia ($117m).

However, those two films were just a stepping stone for this year's big daddy: Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Netting a tidy sum of $786m, LaBeouf held his own while sharing screen space with the legendary Harrison Ford and attracting a new generation of fans who were otherwise disconnected with the Indie concept.

The edgy thriller, Eagle Eye ($174m), was simply the icing on the cake of a great year.

4 JACK BLACK KUNG FU PANDA, TROPIC THUNDER AND BE KIND, REWIND 

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $848M

This comic star's status is growing by the day with two blockbusters to his credit in 2008.

The animated Kung Fu Panda saw him voice the lead character of Panda, which went on to became the highest grossing animated film of the year. Black followed this up with the all-star Tropic Thunder ($187m). His hat-trick came with the independent film, Be Kind, Rewind, which impressed the critics and grossed $29m.

5 ROBERT DOWNEY JR IRON MAN AND TROPIC THUNDER 

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $769M

Hollywood's original bad boy underwent an image makeover to become the industry's latest superhero with Iron Man ($582m).

After surprising critics with his skills, he pulled off a double whammy as the "black guy" in Tropic Thunder. He stole the show with stalwarts Ben Stiller and Jack Black fighting for screen space. Fans now await Downey Jr's Iron Man 2, to be released in 2010.

6 JACKIE CHAN KUNG FU PANDA AND THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM 

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $760.3M

He is probably the biggest Asian star to have successfully crossed over to Hollywood. Chan's perfect comic timing was evident even in his miniscule role of Monkey in Kung Fu Panda. And even though The Forbidden Kingdom ($128.7m) did not live up to expectations, his on-screen duel with action star Jet Li was enough to bring in the fans.

7 WILL SMITH HANCOCK AND SEVEN POUNDS 

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $639.2M

After good mate Tom Cruise, Smith is undoubtedly the second biggest Hollywood star to amass such a global fan following.

And even though Hancock ($624.4m) was panned by critics, Smith's immense popularity as planet earth's saviour predictably pulled in the fans. Last weekend saw Seven Pounds ($14.8m) release in the United States. Can he pull off another The Pursuit to Happyness?

8 BRENDAN FRASER THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR AND JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $610.6M

The Mummy star returned as Richard O'Connell, the character that made him a household name. Dragon Emperor ($393m) churned out a weak plot, but fans had already purchased their tickets. His second adventurous outing – Journey to the Center of the Earth ($220.6m) – saw him redeem himself on-screen. In future, Fraser has hinted at a Mummy 4 to Emirates Business.

9 BEN STILLER TROPIC THUNDER AND MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $584M

The king of comedy rocked the box office in 2008, kicking off with the outrageously funny Tropic Thunder. Directed and written by Stiller, the film became one of the biggest hits of 2008. The Madagascar sequel ($397m) followed, which saw Stiller return to voice the character of Alex the Lion and had us rooting for more.

10 DANIEL CRAIG FLASHBACKS OF A FOOL AND QUANTUM OF SOLACE 

BOX-OFFICE GROSS: $535M

Before Quantum of Solace, October saw the release of Flashbacks of a Fool ($1m). Considering the film's dismal box-office collections, Craig should be ecstatic that Bond followed.

Top Bollywood stars

1. KATRINA KAIF ($60M): She is the only Bollywood actress to have six consecutive hit films, with Race ($20.5m) and Singh is Kinng ($29.7m) striking big in 2008. And even though Yuvvraj bombed, Kaif is still hot property in India.

2. SHAH RUKH KHAN ($53M): With two releases this year, 2008 saw him play the supporting role in Bhoot-nath ($13.2m). But it is Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (currently showing in UAE cinemas) that cemented his position by grossing $40m in its first week.

3. AISHWARYA RAI BACHCHAN ($44.5M): The year began on a winning note for her with Jodha Akbar. She followed it up with the power-packed Sarkar Raj. Her next is Pink Panther 2, so expect her box-office status to rise in 2009.

4. AKSHAY KUMAR ($40.5M): After years of struggle, Kumar hit the big league last year with Welcome. But it is this year’s Singh is Kinng that had such a recordbreaking run at the box-office (Rs1.45bn), it overshadowed the dismal performance of Tashan.

-Figures: www.boxofficemojo.com

 

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