Some actors have such a magnetic pull that they become franchises unto themselves. Whatever film they touch turns to box office gold, solidifying their status as living, breathing blockbusters. Here are a few such mega-stars who’ve mastered this feat.
Box Office Kings: “Mission: Impossible” series, “Top Gun”, “Jerry Maguire”
Arguably one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, Tom Cruise has created a brand centered around action and charisma. Whether he’s dangling from a helicopter in the “Mission: Impossible” series or flying fighter jets in “Top Gun,” Cruise’s movies are almost guaranteed to be a hit.
Box Office Kings: “Men in Black” series, “Independence Day”, “Bad Boys”
Will Smith is the epitome of a multi-genre star, conquering realms from sci-fi to action-comedy. Whether he’s chasing down aliens in “Men in Black” or playing a smooth cop in “Bad Boys,” Smith’s films consistently perform well at the box office.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Box Office Kings: “Fast & Furious” series, “Jumanji”, “San Andreas”
Once known solely for his wrestling career, Dwayne Johnson has since become a Hollywood sensation. His versatility in action, comedy, and even musicals like “Moana” means you can pretty much expect a hit whenever he’s on the marquee.
Box Office Queens: “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, “Lucy”, “Ghost in the Shell”
Scarlett Johansson is not just Black Widow; she’s also a box office powerhouse in her own right. Whether she’s a part of an ensemble in the MCU or leading her own action-packed ventures like “Lucy,” Johansson’s movies are almost always a success.
Box Office Kings: “Titanic”, “Inception”, “The Revenant”
Although not traditionally considered an action star, Leonardo DiCaprio’s name alone is enough to draw massive audiences. His roles in blockbuster hits like “Titanic” and critically acclaimed films like “Inception” make him a sure bet for box office success.
Robert Downey Jr.
Box Office Kings: “Iron Man” series, “Sherlock Holmes”, “Avengers”
Once a troubled actor, Robert Downey Jr. has turned his career around to become one of the most beloved and bankable stars. His portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man became the linchpin of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and his reboot of “Sherlock Holmes” was also highly successful.
Box Office Queens: “The Hunger Games” series, “X-Men”
Jennifer Lawrence became a household name thanks to her role in “The Hunger Games” series, and she’s continued to draw big audiences in movies like “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “X-Men: Apocalypse”.
Box Office Kings: “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Fantastic Beasts”
Though his star has dimmed somewhat due to controversies, Johnny Depp has long been a big draw at the box office. His role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series is iconic.
Box Office Kings: “The Equalizer”, “Training Day”, “American Gangster”
Denzel Washington has a track record of delivering not just great performances but also strong box office numbers. Movies like “Training Day” and “The Equalizer” have cemented his status as a franchise-level actor.
Box Office Queens: “Mamma Mia!”, “The Devil Wears Prada”, “Into the Woods”
Though known for her dramatic roles, Meryl Streep has shown she can carry a film on her own, often elevating its box office potential. Films like “Mamma Mia!” have enjoyed massive financial success, largely thanks to her star power.
Box Office Kings: “Thor” series, “Avengers”, “Men in Black: International”
Best known for his role as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chris Hemsworth has proven his capability to lead in other genres as well, making any project he’s a part of a likely success.
Box Office Kings: “The Matrix” series, “John Wick” series, “Speed”
Keanu Reeves has had an impressively long and varied career, but he’s best known for iconic roles that have led to massive franchises. “The Matrix” was groundbreaking and has spawned multiple sequels, including a new installment in 2021. The “John Wick” series has also been a massive hit, turning into a cultural phenomenon and a box-office success with its high-adrenaline action sequences.