World’s Top Highest-Earning Actresses in 2017


We’ve had some great movies so far in 2017, and you’ve probably seen at least one box office hit this year. Among those hits is the La La Land. Emma Stone was the lead actress in that movie, and it seems that she really struck gold this time. Emma, 28, became this year’s highest-paid actress earning $26 million pretax in 12 month scoring period.

Not only did La La Land make her the highest-paid actress of 2017 but she also won a Best Actress Oscar award. She did a splendid job of portraying Mia, an ambitious actress and barista, and she picked up some great reviews which sky-rocketed this movie to $445.3 million at the global box office.

She had a few touching words upon receiving the award considering similarities between her life and the role. ‘I moved here when I was 15 to start auditioning, I knew what it felt like to go on audition after audition.’ Surely all that work had paid off because she scored her largest ever annual salary and topped every other actress on the list this year.


Jennifer Aniston (No. 2; $25.5 million) fell in behind Emma even though she still banks millions decade after the end of Friends. However her earnings don’t come only from films, she gets paid by FlyEmirates, Aveeno, Smartwater, Living Proof (hair-care line) in which she owned a stake. And to make things even better for Aniston, Living Proof was sold to Unilever for an undisclosed amount in December 2016.

Jennifer Lawrence who was the #1 of this list now comes in third earning just over half of her 2016 total. This isn’t a tragedy since she still received $24 million. Considering that there is no new Hunger Games movie, Lawrence’s income comes mostly from the upcoming Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Mother!’. Besides that film she also gets paid for her role in ‘Red Sparrow’ and she has a contract with Dior. Just behind Lawrence, we found Melissa McCarthy (No. 4; $18 million) and Mila Kunis (No. 5; $15.5 million).


When you put together world’s top 10 highest-earning actresses you get a total of $172.5 million in earnings from June 1, 2016, to June 1, 2017 (before taxes). These estimates are based on information gathered from Nielsen, Box Office Mojo, IMDB and ComScore. There have been few insiders that contributed as well. All estimates are calculated without taxes, and agent/manager fees have been excluded. We had no data about actresses coming from Asia which means that we also have nothing on Fan Bingbing and Deepika Padukone.

One interesting face made it to our top 10 list though. We just have to mention our beloved Emma Watson (#6) who cashed her paycheck for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ which alone earned $1.26 billion at the global box office this year. That qualifies this movie as the top-grossing movie of the year so far. Considering that drama ‘The Circle’ unexpectedly flopped she still managed to earn $14 million in this time frame and she has the Mouse House to thank to for that.


Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at industry tracker ComScore had a few words about Emma. ‘Every kid who grew up on Harry Potter felt instantly comfortable seeing Emma Watson on screen; even if she wasn’t Hermione Granger, she was Belle.’ He added: ‘Disney could have plugged in any actor into that role but it wouldn’t have had that magic.’

Another interesting statistic we stumbled upon comes in the shape of total earnings of women in the industry this year. When compared to last year only three women breached the $20 million mark. In 2016 we had four of them do that. That is partly due to the absent Scarlett Johansson who amassed only $11.5 million so far this year. When we look at the overall number, we see that cumulative total is decreased by 16% when compared to $205 million in 2016.


However, this number comes as a success considering that female characters fill only 28.7% of all speaking roles in the film according to a study from 2016. Women above 40 have a hard time finding any roles at all. On the other hand, we have to mention the fact that 60% of this year’s list members are over the age of 40 which is quite amazing. These ‘veterans’ have formed their own roles just like Charlize Theron, 42, who produced Atomic Blonde. Charlize (No. 6; $14 million) spent five years developing the spy project, and as things stand right now, it will pay off.

In her interview with Variety she said: ‘We’ve had moments like this, where women really showcase themselves and break glass ceilings. And then we don’t sustain it. Or there’s one movie that doesn’t do well, and all of a sudden, no one wants to make a female-driven film.’


In conclusion, we have to note that strong female characters have never been more bountiful at the box office. We have Wonder Woman and Girls Trip show as proof. We hope that many actresses take these examples and build on it which would only create more roles for a wider range of actresses in the future.