Topping the list? It's not an eight-figure-salary A-lister like Sandra Bullock or Cameron Diaz; in fact, neither figured in the top 10 at all. Nope, the actress who delivers the best return on investment is Naomi Watts, whose most recent wide-release movies, according to Forbes, have earned $44 for each $1 paid to hire the Australian star. Times are tough, and star salaries are skyrocketing, so if you're a studio accountant, you might want to know: Which Hollywood actresses offer the best return on investment? Along come the number-crunchers at Forbes, which has released its list of the 10 actresses who offer the most bang for the buck.
Topping the list? It's not an eight-figure-salary A-lister like Sandra Bullock or Cameron Diaz; in fact, neither figured in the top 10 at all. Nope, the actress who delivers the best return on investment is Naomi Watts, whose most recent wide-release movies, according to Forbes, have earned $44 for each $1 paid to hire the Australian star.
Close behind at No. 2 is Jennifer Connelly, whose recent studio pics have taken in $41 for each dollar she was paid. No. 3 is Rachel McAdams, returning 30-fold each dollar of her salary.
Rounding out the top 10 are Natalie Portman, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway and Hilary Swank.
It's worth noting that most of these actresses earn modest salaries (by Hollywood standards), and that most are sharing the screen with other stars who may be even bigger box office draws. For example, Connelly gets credit for appearing opposite Keanu Reeves in 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' and in the large ensemble cast of 'He's Just Not That Into You,' along with Aniston and others. Also, Forbes only counted movies that played on more than 500 screens, so the low-grossing art-house movies that many of these actresses specialize in aren't factored in.
That said, it's still curious to see some of the names on this list. Watts, who starred opposite Clive Owen in this spring's flop 'The International,' hasn't had a monster hit since 'King Kong' in 2005. Berry hasn't had one since 2006's 'X-Men: The Last Stand,' in which she was part of a large ensemble cast. And Swank's résumé, aside from 'Million Dollar Baby' and 'P.S. I Love You,' is largely hit-free. Only Streep and Aniston (and maybe Hathaway) can draw big box office on the strength of their names alone, without having to share the credit.
After all, if earning a modest paycheck while being part of a successful ensemble is enough to get you on the list, then Hollywood's smartest investment among actresses should probably be 'Harry Potter' regular Emma Watson. -- By Gary Susman