There's a lot that you might not know about Jason Statham: He was an Olympic diver, modeled for French Connection, sold goods on the black market and turns out moderately successful action movies like clockwork. In fact, he makes successful action movies at a rate of 1.3 films a year.
If you don't like tough-guy, shoot-'em-up action flicks, this might come as a surprise to you. You would be hard pressed to find someone calling Statham an "A list" celebrity. Critically, many of his films get panned by both critics and audiences. Of the 21 movies he has on Rotten Tomatoes, only six are rated "fresh." But much like Matthew McConaughey and his steady stream of rom-coms, Statham has figured out a formula that works well, and he seems to be sticking to it: low overhead, moderate profit.
Take the 'Transporter' series. The average 'Transporter' movie cost an estimated $31 million to make and earned an average worldwide gross of $78 million at the box office, with each film earning significantly more than the last. That's $47 million profit per flick. Add the DVD sales to that and you have an enormously profitable film franchise. Not bad, Mr. Statham, not bad at all.
That seems to be about par for the course for Statham: Of the films that he starred in that were released in the U.S., he averaged $38 million in profit just from box office sales. And if you're wondering how that's possible, it's because almost exactly half of the money earned was from outside the U.S.
In a world where 'Avatar' earns $2 billion, that might not sound like much, but let's compare it to a typical Matthew McConaughey flick. 'Fool's Gold,' for example, only earned $41 million.
Then you have Statham's ensemble films, in particular 'Snatch' and 'The Expendables,' both of which were worldwide box office hits. Again, we're not talking about 'Avatar' money, but 'The Expendables' made $217 million on an $80 million dollar budget.
So maybe a single Jason Statham film will never pull in James Cameron–level revenue, but over the course of his career his movies have made $752 million in profit.
So keep "crank"ing them out, Mr. Statham; you only need six more films to hit a billion.
Figures from Box Office Mojo and The Numbers.