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Biggest box office stars since 1980

  • Biggest box office stars since 1980

    What does it take to be a big box office star? While many actors have appeared in big-name Hollywood blockbuster franchises like an “Avengers” film, “Hunger Games” or the “Twilight” series, many of them pack just as big a punch from smaller-budget films, like “Silver Linings Playbook.” (Can you guess which actress from that film made the list?)

    Stacker has compiled the biggest box office stars since 1980 by using data from The Numbers. To determine the rankings, the highest-grossing star in each year is based on domestic box office sales of the movies in which they had a leading role, plus ticket sales for films in the two preceding years. Each “Star Score” below represents the number of points (as assigned by The Numbers), based on how well the movies performed at the box office. A fair number of actors and actresses appear more than once, thanks to movies and sales that span multiple years.

    Think you know who appears on the list? Read on to find out.

    RELATED: Most bankable actors of 2018

  • 1980: Clint Eastwood

    Star score: 359

    Top contributing films: Every Which Way but Loose, Any Which Way You Can, Escape from Alcatraz

    #2 Star: Jane Fonda (Star score: 341, Top contributing films: California Suite, The Electric Horseman, The China Syndrome)

    #3 Star: Burt Reynolds (Star score: 262, Top contributing films: Hooper, Starting Over, The End)

    In “Every Which Way But Loose,” Clint Eastwood stars as a tough trucker who has a pet orangutan and moonlights as a fighter (a premonition of his later work as a trainer in “Million Dollar Baby”). Workout queen Jane Fonda was also a big box office star, in part for her role in “California Suite,” a film based on Paul Simon’s screenplay of the same name that was nominated for an Oscar.

     

  • 1981: Chevy Chase

    Star score: 289

    Top contributing films: Caddyshack, Modern Problems, Seems Like Old Times

    #2 Star: Clint Eastwood (Star score: 262, Top contributing films: Any Which Way You Can, Escape from Alcatraz, Bronco Billy)

    #3 Star: Harrison Ford (Star score: 257, Top contributing films: Star Wars Ep. V: The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, null)

    Chevy Chase earned big bucks for his roles that included “Caddyshack,” playing a wealthy golf snob dealing with a brash new member to the club and a charismatic gopher. Harrison Ford also took on a number of roles that would become career-defining, including the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” series.

     

  • 1982: Chevy Chase

    Star score: 289

    Top contributing films: Caddyshack, Modern Problems, Seems Like Old Times

    #2 Star: Harrison Ford (Star score: 279, Top contributing films: Star Wars Ep. V: The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner)

    #3 Star: Sylvester Stallone (Star score: 266, Top contributing films: Rocky III, First Blood, null)

    Chevy Chase was another high earner this year for his role alongside 80s darling Goldie Hawn in “Seems Like Old Times.” Chase plays Nick Gardenia, a writer who is wrongly accused of a bank robbery. He seeks assistance from his ex-wife, played by Hawn, who is a lawyer. The film was another Neil Simon blockbuster.

     

  • 1983: Harrison Ford

    Star score: 279

    Top contributing films: Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner

    #2 Star: Sylvester Stallone (Star score: 266, Top contributing films: Rocky III, First Blood, null)

    #3 Star: Chevy Chase (Star score: 261, Top contributing films: National Lampoon’s Vacation, Modern Problems, null)

    Stallone was a big earner this year for his role in “Rocky III,” which chronicles Rocky’s fall from grace following his win of the ultimate title. The film was nominated for an Oscar. Ford and Chase also made the cut once more.

     

  • 1984: Clint Eastwood

    Star score: 347

    Top contributing films: Sudden Impact, Tightrope, Firefox

    #2 Star: Eddie Murphy (Star score: 337, Top contributing films: Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, 48 Hours)

    #3 Star: Harrison Ford (Star score: 277, Top contributing films: Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Blade Runner)

    “He’s been chased, thrown through a window and arrested.” That’s the tagline for this Eddie Murphy movie about a freewheeling Detroit cop on vacation in “Beverly Hills Cop” who must adjust to life in Beverly Hills. The legendary Clint Eastwood also made the list this year for his role in “Sudden Impact.”

     

  • 1985: Chevy Chase

    Star score: 395

    Top contributing films: National Lampoon’s Vacation, Spies Like Us, National Lampoon's European Vacation

    #2 Star: Clint Eastwood (Star score: 343, Top contributing films: Sudden Impact, Tightrope, Pale Rider)

    #3 Star: Kathleen Turner (Star score: 295, Top contributing films: Romancing the Stone, The Jewel of the Nile, Prizzi's Honor)

    Kathleen Turner teams up with Michael Douglas in “Romancing the Stone.” She plays a romance novelist and big city girl who sets off for Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister. Chase also makes the list again for his role as the quirky Clark Griswold in the “National Lampoon’s” films.

     

  • 1986: Steve Guttenberg

    Star score: 442

    Top contributing films: Police Academy, Cocoon, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment

    #2 Star: Tom Hanks (Star score: 371, Top contributing films: Splash, Bachelor Party, The Money Pit)

    #3 Star: Chevy Chase (Star score: 340, Top contributing films: Spies Like Us, National Lampoon's European Vacation, Fletch)

    Tom Hanks fell in love with a mermaid in “Splash” and had his last hurrah in “Bachelor Party,” while Steve Guttenberg took on his role in the “Police Academy” series. The latter made $8.5 million in opening weekend but went on to gross an astounding $81 million.

     

  • 1987: Steve Guttenberg

    Star score: 531

    Top contributing films: 3 Men and a Baby, Cocoon, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment

    #2 Star: Chevy Chase (Star score: 340, Top contributing films: Spies Like Us, National Lampoon's European Vacation, Fletch)

    #3 Star: Sylvester Stallone (Star score: 320, Top contributing films: Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rocky IV, Cobra)

    Guttenberg had another successful year, in part for his role in “Three Men and a Baby,” about three men who take care of an unexpected addition. The film was the biggest American box office hit of that year, surpassing even “Fatal Attraction.”

     

  • 1988: Tom Cruise

    Star score: 429

    Top contributing films: Top Gun, Rain Man, Cocktail

    #2 Star: Bette Midler (Star score: 427, Top contributing films: Ruthless People, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Beaches)

    #3 Star: Steve Guttenberg (Star score: 397, Top contributing films: 3 Men and a Baby, Police Academy 3: Back in Training, Short Circuit)

    Tom Cruise lands on the list with a trifecta of some of his most memorable performances. He plays a hot shot fighter pilot in “Top Gun,” an older brother to Dustin Hoffman’s “Rain Man” (which won four Oscars) and a lovable bartender in “Cocktail.”

     

  • 1989: Tom Hanks

    Star score: 393

    Top contributing films: Big, Turner & Hooch, Dragnet

    #2 Star: Eddie Murphy (Star score: 357, Top contributing films: Beverly Hills Cop II, Coming to America, Harlem Nights)

    #3 Star: Michelle Pfeiffer (Star score: 335, Top contributing films: The Witches of Eastwick, Tequila Sunrise, Dangerous Liaisons)

    “Dangerous Liaisons” was so successful that it won three Oscars, helping catapult the career of Michelle Pfeiffer. The film is about the tragedy that ensues when a scheming widow (Glenn Close) and her ex-lover (John Malkovich) make a bet over a newly married woman (Pfeiffer).

     

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