Sunday, March 16, 2008

BLACK ENTERPRISE Announces the Top 25 Moneymakers in Hollywood

Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes, Will Smith, and Denzel Washington Top Publication's Ranking of the Most Bankable Blacks in Film & Television


NEW YORK, March 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Money is at the heart of show business.
The recent Oscar ceremony lauded the ultimate in cinematic excellence, but the true barometer is a good opening weekend at the box office -- the first indicator that a motion picture will be a hit. It is box office gross -- not the Academy Award -- that is the make or break factor for actors, directors, and producers seeking influence. In television, success is measured by a program's ratings, which in turn determines advertising rates.

Today, a core group of black superstars has seized upon their creative talents to take control, both in front of and behind the cameras. In the March cover feature "The Top 25 Moneymakers in Hollywood," BE unveils its most comprehensive and qualitative measurement of black clout in entertainment. In developing its Bankability Index, the publication evaluated box office revenues, television ads, estimated salaries, name recognition, and major award wins and nominations. The result, reports BE Editorial Director Alan Hughes, "demonstrates that money is the key determinant when it comes to who gets to make plays and who's forced to sit on the sidelines in Tinseltown."

Coming in at No. 1 is media powerhouse Oprah Winfrey, who is widely acknowledged as one of the world's most influential moguls. The Oprah Winfrey Show continues to reign as the highest-rated talk show in daytime television history. Winfrey, whose show has won more than 40 Emmys, recently struck a deal with Discovery Communications to launch OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2009. The network will be the most recent addition to a media empire that includes a satellite radio network channel and a magazine. One of a handful of black billionaires and CEO of a leading BE 100s company, Winfrey is also a powerful television and film producer.

Creating one of the highest-rated shows on television has made Shonda Rhimes worth more than her weight in gold with studio execs. It has also secured her the No. 2 spot on BE's Top Moneymakers list. Rhimes may not have the name or face recognition enjoyed by other powerhouses, but the buzz and the advertising dollars Grey's Anatomy has generated for ABC Network and its parent company, Walt Disney Co., powered her to the upper echelons of the ranking.

Earning a reported $20 million, plus a percentage of the box office gross, for each big-budget film he appears in, Will Smith landed the No. 3 spot. To date, his films have generated a staggering $4.9 billion worldwide, placing him at the top of Hollywood's elite.

Denzel Washington continued his box office reign with two highly acclaimed films, American Gangster and The Great Debaters. His venerable Hollywood track record earns him the No. 4 spot. Gangster generated some $223 million worldwide, proving that the iconic actor's drawing power is among the strongest in the business.

Halle Berry's strong performances in Paramount's Things We Lost in the Fire and Sony's Perfect Stranger demonstrate why she commands top dollar. Although Berry reportedly is not making the $14 million salary she earned during her Catwoman days, she still receives about $10 million per flick, putting her at No. 5.

Rounding out the list's top 10 are Jamie Foxx (No. 6); The Wayans Family (No. 7); Martin Lawrence (No. 8); Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens (No. 9); and Laurence Fishburne (No. 10).

The entire Top 25 Moneymakers in Hollywood list is available in the March issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE, on newsstands now.

BLACK ENTERPRISE, your ultimate source for wealth creation, is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans since 1970.

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