George Clooney banked $239 million pretax to return to the Celebrity 100 for the first time since 2010. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Sometimes fallen stars shoot again–especially when they score a big win. Floyd Mayweather returned to this year’s Celebrity 100 list by pocketing $285 million in the last year, good enough to earn him the top spot on Forbes‘ annual ranking of entertainment’s top earners.
Money Mayweather missed last year’s list, but his August 2017 fight versus Conor McGregor in Las Vegas generated more than $550 million in revenue, accounting for the bulk of the boxer’s payday.
He edged actor George Clooney, who bounced back among the world’s highest-earners for the first time since 2010 by pocketing a whopping $239 million pretax and fees. Clooney does not have camera work to thank for his millions: British liquor giant Diageo purchased Casamigos, the tequila company the movie star cofounded with pals Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman, for $700 million with the option for a conditional $300 million extra. The sale gives Clooney the best annual take-home of his–or any actor’s–career.
“If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion dollar company, I don’t think we would have said yes,” Clooney told CNBC. “But we’re not going anywhere. We’ll still be very much a part of Casamigos. Starting with a shot tonight. Maybe two.”
Returnees account for 12% of this year’s Celebrity 100, including veterans like U2 (No. 6; $118 million), The Eagles (No. 41; $56 million), Depeche Mode (No. 44; $53 million) and The Rolling Stones (No. 80; $39 million). These long-time acts make the cut from mammoth tours, for which their loyal fans fork out major cash.
The Celebrity 100 list ranks front-of-camera stars around the globe using their pretax earnings from June 1, 2017 through June 1, 2018, before deducting fees for managers, lawyers and agents. Estimates are based on numbers from Nielsen, Pollstar, IMDB, SoundScan, NPD BookScan and ComScore, as well as interviews with industry experts and many of the stars themselves.
Musicians account for the majority of familiar faces: Pink (No. 45; $52 million) Lady Gaga (No. 49; $50 million) and Foo Fighters (No. 53; $47 million) all return to the ranks thanks to live dates, including Gaga’s Las Vegas residency and Pink’s Beautiful Trauma Tour.
But two actors also reclaim spots amongst the highest-earners. Playing Black Widow in Marvel’s Avengers movies has become a lucrative role for Scarlett Johansson, who rejoins the Celebrity 100 after a three year hiatus. She’ll return onscreen for the fourth installment of the superhero conglomerate series in 2019.
“The percent of budget cost have certainly skewed heavy, particularly on the Avengers movies, to cast now, whereas maybe in the early ones it was more visual effects or below the line,” Marvel head Kevin Feige said in 2017. “But that’s okay because [the actors] are the best effects.”
At 49, Bel Air’s prince may no longer be fresh, but Will Smith is still banking big bucks. His turn in Netflix’s panned Bright earned him an estimated $20 million, while a forthcoming role as Genie in Disney’s live action Aladdin adds to his bottom line. In a rare return to music, he also appeared on Nicky Jam’s World Cup Anthem “Live It Up.”
Over the past two decades, more than 700 actors, actresses, musicians and other stars have appeared on the list, accumulating a total of $80 billion in earnings. This year’s list members represent 17 countries: the U.S., U.K., Barbados, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, China, Mexico, Colombia, Germany, Spain, Greece, India.