Robert Downey Jr still world's best-paid actor as Bollywood stars crowd top 10 Avengers star tops annual Forbes list for the third year running, but Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp find themselves displaced by Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar
Money man ... Robert Downey Jr. Photograph: Ian Gavan/Getty Images Ben Child
Tuesday 4 August 2015 17.59 BST Last modified on Wednesday 5 August 2015 16.45 BST Robert Downey Jr has topped Forbes magazine's annual list of the highest paid actors for the third year in a row. The Iron Man and Avengers star made an estimated $80m (£51m) over the past 12 months, beating out fellow Hollywood behemoths such as Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Tom Cruise.
However, in a startling development, four out of the top 10 wealthiest male film stars now hail from outside Hollywood, according to the latest edition of the annual survey. China's Jackie Chan and Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar all finished ahead of established American actors such as Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp.
Robert Downey Jr and the Avengers: Age of Ultron cast hit back at superhero movie critics The surprise results came after the financial magazine featured actors from international film industry meccas beyond the Hollywood bubble for the first time ever. The prominence of Asian actors comes as something of a shock because Chinese and Indian movies rarely feature on annual lists of the highest-grossing films across the globe. The most successful Bollywood film of all time, last year's PK, made just $120m globally, while the highest-grossing Chinese film, this year's Monster Hunt, boasts $290m. Hollywood's best effort, 2009's Avatar, scored a staggering $2.78bn.
Downey Jr's $80m earnings were thanks largely to a lucrative profit-share deal from the $1.39bn success of superhero epic Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a reported $40m payday for upcoming Marvel film Captain America: Civil War. "Downey Jr has been able to cut unique, favourable deals that ensure he is well compensated for his Tony Stark troubles," Forbes' Natalie Robehmed told The Guardian. "Movies featuring his Iron Man character still perform astronomically at the box office."
The Hollywood star earned a full $30m more than second-placed Chan. The 61-year-old Hong Kong-based martial arts star, who is popular in the west but an unmatched megastar in east Asia, made his $50m from highly profitable franchises such as the upcoming historical action movie Dragon Blade, as well as merchandise tie-ins and a cinema chain which trades under his name.
Vin Diesel, star of the Fast & Furious movies, landed in third with earnings of $47m during the period recorded by Forbes (1 June, 2014 to 1 June, 2015) thanks largely to the box office success of the most recent instalment in the street racing saga. Fuelled by hype surrounding the death of star Paul Walker, Fast & Furious 7 scored $1.51bn globally earlier this year.
Robert Downey Jr calls British journalist 'bottom-feeding muckraker'
The top five was rounded out by Bradley Cooper, whose roles in box office smashes American Sniper and Guardians of the Galaxy last year helped earn him $41.5m, and Adam Sandler ($41m) who is generally considered to be a Hollywood star on the wane following a series of box office bombs but who benefited from a lucrative deal to screen his next four films exclusively on Netflix.
Sixth place, with $40m, went to Tom Cruise, who remains a high earner thanks to the box office success of the Mission: Impossible films, which he also produces.
Bachchan, the 72-year-old star of close to 200 Bollywood films, was the joint-top Indian actor on the list at No 7. He and Salman Khan, the controversial 49-year-old Mumbai-based megastar who has retained his popularity despite a recent homicide conviction relating to the drunken killing of a homeless man, both earned $33.5m. Kumar, the 47-year-old actor and martial artist who has appeared in hundreds of Hindi-language films, made ninth place with earnings of $32.5m, just ahead of Transformers star Mark Wahlberg ($32m).
Depp and DiCaprio, who have both topped Forbes' list in the past, found themselves pushed outside the top 10 into 12th and 13th positions with earnings of $30m and $29m respectively, and Robehmed said it was no surprise that the Hollywood stars had been displaced.
"Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar are Bollywood legends," she said. "Bollywood movies gross far less at the box office, with nearly all their money from domestic ticketing. But movies cover costs by selling satellite rights to TV channels. And unlike the US, where first dollar gross deals are a thing of the past, Indian stars continue to earn a cut of each film's ticketing revenue.
"Jackie Chan, meanwhile, has built an empire on brand extensions and East-West co-productions - helped by his special relationship with the Chinese government."
The best-remunerated Briton was James Bond star Daniel Craig in 15th, with earnings of $27m. Forbes' list features only male stars. A female-only rundown is promised at an unspecified later date.
The World's Highest-Paid Actors 2015 1. Robert Downey Jr: $80m 2. Jackie Chan: $50m 3. Vin Diesel: $47m 4. Bradley Cooper: $41.5m 5. Adam Sandler: $41m 6. Tom Cruise: $40m 7. Amitabh Bachchan: $33.5m 7. Salman Khan: $33.5m 9. Akshay Kumar: $32.5m 10. Mark Wahlberg: $32m 11. Dwayne Johnson: $31.5m 12. Johnny Depp: $30m 13. Leonardo DiCaprio: $29m 14. Channing Tatum: $29m 15. Chris Hemsworth: $27m 15. Daniel Craig: $27m