Forbes published its annual list of Hollywood's highest-earning actresses today, and guess who's number one. An ol' standby like Reese Witherspoon or Julia Roberts? No siree, those days are over. The highest-earning (that's not just from movie salaries but from endorsement deals, etc.) was miss mopey mouse herself, Kristen Stewart. From May 2011 to May 2012, the Twilight actress hauled in a whopping $34.5 million. So, is Kristen Stewart the new World's Biggest Actress? Well, no.
Stewart earned most of that money for the Twilight films, the second-to-last of which was released back in November, with the final installment due this fall. She also earned some scratch for the lackluster Snow White and the Huntsman, but people hardly noticed her presence in that film. That movie truly belonged to the number five top earner, Charlize Theron. Frankly, Stewart's success isn't owed to her innate Kristen Stewart-ness, it's all about the must-see quality (well, must-see for some, anyway) of the Twilight franchise. When that series finally gets staked in the heart this November, will Kristen Stewart still be earning top dollar? Unless she gets another zeigeisty franchise, we don't think that's likely.
The rest of the top five — Cameron Diaz (earning back-end bank for Bad Teacher), Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie (who only had one animated movie in the past year, but still made a ton), and Theron — are more bonafide movie stars, ones who have carried a relatively diverse slate of movies rather than one successful series, so we shouldn't count the traditional movie star dead just yet. But as Entertainment Weekly's Jeff Labrecque points out, another franchise queen, Jennifer Lawrence (who has both X-Men and The Hunger Games), is poised to become a top earner next year. So maybe our usual movie queens — a list which also includes Witherspoon (off the top ten this year), Jennifer Aniston, and Meryl Streep — will continue doing pretty darn well, but the top spot or two will continue to be ruled by some franchise star who might be a short burst kind of a thing. That isn't to say that Jennifer Lawrence isn't a capable and likable actress in non-YA sensation fare, it's just that she's got indie roots that don't suggest too many megawatt moments in the future.
And, again, this is not a highest-salaried list; the dollar amounts cover endorsements and residuals and all that stuff too. Star salaries are decreasing across the board (often in exchange for back-end deals), so those numbers just aren't as exciting anymore. Anyway, the real point is that holy shit is this a lot of money and, well, wouldn't it be nice to even be in the top 50.