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A bankable star is an actor famous or charismatic enough to be "capable of guaranteeing box-office success simply by showing up in a movie". [1]

In that "stars" are celebrities, bankable stars are people that are thought dependable entertainment investments. Stars become less bankable by being controversial, doing illegal activities, becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, or simply growing older.



Media consultant Blake Harris[2] states that a bankable star is one of the "3 minimum ingredients to any film package", the other two being a successful director and a script or a strong story idea. The involvement of a bankable star in a film gives investors confidence that they will achieve a return on their investments, by ensuring that the film is widely distributed and that at least some people will pay to see it (i.e. that it will "open"). Harris adds that obtaining a bankable star for a package is not easy, because of the dearth of such stars, stating that at any point in time there are no more than "a dozen or so" stars whose mere involvement will ensure that a film will be made.

Analyst Alex Epstein[3] states that bankable stars — or, more generally, "bankable elements" — are how "hookless" films (i.e. films without a compelling concept that makes people interested in them in their own right) get made, giving Dances with Wolves as an example of a movie where the involvement of Kevin Costner as the bankable star guaranteed that the movie was made. Writer Melissa Robbie[4] concurs, stating that some movies are high-concept (i.e. they have what Epstein terms "hooks") whereas others are simply star vehicles for bankable stars.

The Hollywood Reporter has published several results of polls for Hollywood's top 10 most bankable stars, the most recent three being one in 1999, one in 2002 and the last one in 2006.[5]

The 2002 survey polled "114 executives at both major studios and independent companies, financiers and various industry players from around the world".[6] Voters were asked which stars "did the most to attract financing to a film, ensure its global distribution, and deliver that hugely important opening weekend based on the strength of their good name".

James Ulmer's list of bankable stars is the A-list.

Lists of most bankable stars


Hollywood Reporter

These are the top 10 lists of the most bankable stars, with their scores, as published by Hollywood Reporter.


  1. Tom Hanks
  2. Mel Gibson
  3. Tom Cruise
  4. Harrison Ford
  5. Jim Carrey
  6. Leonardo DiCaprio
  7. John Travolta
  8. Julia Roberts
  9. Robin Williams
  10. Brad Pitt


  1. Tom Cruise (100.00)
  2. Tom Hanks (100.00)
  3. Julia Roberts (100.00)
  4. Mel Gibson (98.68)
  5. Jim Carrey (98.46)
  6. George Clooney (95.18)
  7. Russell Crowe (94.74)
  8. Harrison Ford (94.74)
  9. Bruce Willis (94.30)
  10. Brad Pitt (92.98) [1]


  1. Tom Hanks
  2. Tom Cruise
  3. Jim Carrey
  4. George Clooney
  5. Russell Crowe
  6. Johnny Depp
  7. Nicole Kidman
  8. Jude Law
  9. Brad Pitt
  10. Julia Roberts [2]
  11. Angelina Jolie

See also


  1. ^ Bankable Stars, CBS News, Feb. 5, 2002
  2. ^ Tom Cruise and Hanks top new power list World Entertainment News Network, 2006-04-10


  1. ^  Daniel Frankel (1999-06-14). "Survey Says: Hanks Hollywood's Most Bankable Star". E!.,1,4909,00.html.  
  2. ^  Blake Harris. "A Brief Look at the Industry". The True Art of Screenwriting. Retrieved 2005-12-28.  
  3. ^  Alex Epstein (2002-10-08). Crafty Screenwriting: Writing Movies That Get Made. Owl Books. ISBN 0-8050-6992-5.  
  4. ^  Melissa Robbie. "Find your high concept — or be left low without one". Melbourne Romance Writers Guild articles. Retrieved 2005-12-28.  
  5. ^  "Tom Cruise and Hanks top new power list". World Entertainment News Network. 2006-04-10.  
  6. ^  "Bankable Stars". CBS News. 2002-02-05.  

External links


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