In the eyes of US movie theatre owners, Sandra Bullock shined as 2009’s top Hollywood star at the box office, as the actress nicknamed “America’s Sweetheart” scored with audiences after a two-year absence from screens.
Quigley Publishing Company’s annual list of top money making stars, based on a poll of hundreds of theatre executives, had Bullock beat out such stars as George Clooney and Denzel Washington, on the strength of her roles in The Proposal and The Blind Side.
Romantic comedy The Proposal made US$315 million at worldwide box offices following its June release, and football drama The Blind Side has made US$193 million only in the US and Canada since its November 20 release, with its roll-out in other countries still to come.
Bullock, who also starred in the 2009 comedy All About Steve with its US$34 million take in the US and Canada, is the eighth woman to top Quigley’s list of top money making stars, which the company has put out each year since 1932.
Quigley Publishing said the list does not rank stars only on how much cash their films made, but on what theater owners say about who attracts audiences on their star power alone.
For instance, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was the top movie at US and Canada box offices in 2009 with more than US$400 million, but many in Hollywood attribute that to the appeal of the franchise itself and the toys it’s based on.
The last woman to top Quigley’s list was Julia Roberts in 1999. She failed to make Quigley’s 2009 top 10 this year, after her turn in romantic comedy Duplicity bombed at the box office.
Bullock scored her first smash hit with 1994 action movie Speed and became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but before The Proposal she had not starred in a film since 2007.
Bullock told BANG Showbiz yesterday that her mother’s death in 2000 made her realise how precious life can be. “It took me two years to accept that she’s not here. It doesn’t get easier; it gets harder. But it’s a good thing, because I feel it and I value it and I’m not rushing through life. I love to do things that continue what she started, whether it’s making candles or creating a place for women going through chemotherapy to spend time with their families,” she said.
Public Enemies star Johnny Depp came in at No. 2 on Quigley’s top 10 list, followed by Matt Damon, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Denzel Washington.