The Top-Grossing Actors of 2012: A Countdown

Hollywood stars bring in big money in their hit films, and 2012 is no exception to that rule. This year had several major box-office releases that drew people to theaters to spend their money and watch stories begin or conclude. From the conclusion of the “Twilight” series to the end of the “Dark Knight” saga and the beginning of “The Avengers,” star power has come through in gross proceeds. Let’s take a look at the films of the five highest-grossing Hollywood personalities of 2012.

Robert Pattinson comes in fifth place. He is perhaps better recognized as Edward Cullen of the “Twilight” series. This year’s “Breaking Dawn Part 2” completed the story of Bella, Edward, and Jacob. The film grossed more than $796 million, making up the vast majority of Pattinson’s earnings. He starred in two other films in 2012: “Cosmopolis” and “Bel Ami,” which netted $14 million together. Most of the revenue from “Breaking Dawn” came from overseas. As divisive as the “Twilight” series is, there is no denying its success at the box office.

Daniel Craig is next on the list. Although he is a famous and beloved star in the United Kingdom, his only major film project in 2012 was the James Bond film “Skyfall,” which earned $980 million. “Skyfall” blended the gritty reboot style of “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace” with the classic Bond films, adding franchise elements like Q. Many fans of the superspy complained that the reboot had taken Bond too far into realistic territory by removing the world-spanning conspiracies, gadgets, and other well-known Bond tropes. “Skyfall” used some of these elements without making them campy.

Third on the list is Christian Bale. His concluding performance as Batman in “The Dark Knight Rises” earned $1.08 billion at the box office. Christopher Nolan’s version of the comic book character has always been well received. “Rises” did something few comic book movies have done thus far: It ended the respective character arcs. Most of these films have a post-credits scene setting up a potential sequel, but this one did not. At the end of the movie, Batman was widely thought to be dead, having passed the mantle to a Gotham city detective. He had in fact settled in Rome with Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). However, Batman isn’t the best-performing superhero film.

The second-highest-grossing star in 2012 is Kristen Stewart. Her portrayal of “Twilight” heroine Bella Swan was the majority of her total gross, but it was not her only film. Stewart also played Snow White in the June film “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Bringing in $396 million, that film brings her total gross to $1.19 billion worldwide for 2012. Stewart has starred in a number of films, but her most well-known role has been as Bella. One reason she starred in “Snow White” was to avoid being typecast. A sequel for the “Snow White” film has been announced, in which she and Chris Hemsworth will reprise their roles.

Finally, Chris Hemsworth‘s films earned the highest revenues this year. His most well-known role was as the Asgardian thunder god Thor in “The Avengers.” At $1.51 billion, it is the highest-grossing film of the year. The culmination of Marvel Studios’ previous films, “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “The Mighty Thor,” “The Incredible Hulk,” and the “Iron Man” series, it represents comic fans’ dreams come true as the biggest superhero film of all time barring a potential “Justice League” film. Hemsworth also starred in “Snow White and the Huntsman” alongside Kristen Stewart. That film brings his total gross to $1.9 billion. Although Robert Downey Jr. was billed first on “The Avengers,” he had no other projects, unlike Hemsworth. Hemsworth is set to reprise his role as Thor in “Thor: The Dark World” and “The Avengers 2.”

An honorable mention goes to Ian McKellen for his role as Gandalf in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” The long-anticipated prequel to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy has already grossed over $600 million despite being released on December 14. McKellen also starred as Magneto in the “X-Men” films.

Star power can be just as important as the technical aspects of a film, because the personality an actor brings to a role immerses viewers in a film and makes them care about the character. As evidenced by the big hits of 2012, people are still willing to pay millions of dollars at theaters to watch beloved characters come to life.

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