Robert Downey Jr. is the most valuable movie star in Hollywood right now.
At least that’s the conclusion reached by a new Vulture survey of the 100 most valuable stars, a ranking determined by factors that are as close to scientific as one usually gets when it comes to celebrity-oriented lists. (Forbes editors, please take notes.)
Vulture staff recruited a data correspondent from the Guardian to help determine this list, which is based on several factors — domestic and overseas box office, studio value, Oscar nominations, critical acclaim, number of magazine covers, tabloid value and likability — then weighted the list with a heavy emphasis on studio value and box office returns. After all, the purpose of Vulture’s rundown is to determine which person is most likely to help a movie make significant cash.
The answer, apparently, is Robert Downey, Jr., who ranked at No. 1 and was buoyed largely by his massive recent hits, such as “The Avengers” and “Iron Man” movies. (Unfortunately, Vulture did not incorporate the extremely important metric Comic-Con Strutability into its assessment. If it had, Downey Jr.’s No. 1 status would only become that much more solid.)
There are a number of interesting things to take away from this list of 100 movie stars, especially when one realizes that it is interactive and can be re-sorted based on various criteria. Oh, let’s dive in, kids, shall we?
—The rest of the top 10: Based on Vulture’s pre-set weighted criteria, Will Smith sits right behind Downey on the list, followed by Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington and Brad Pitt. Only two women made the top 10: Angelina Jolie (No. 8) and Meryl Streep (No. 9).
—Jaden Smith ranks above Kate Winslet and Colin Firth? The child of Will and Jada rests in a fairly high position on the list, No. 67, which is just one of the head-scratchers found here. Also in that category: Kristen Stewart (38) outranks Reese Witherspoon (41), Julia Roberts (42) and Robert De Niro (52) (“Twilight” is super-lucrative, so I kind of get that one); Jim Carrey (50) outranks De Niro and Daniel Day-Lewis (51); Katherine Heigl (62), outranks Cate Blanchett (65), Jaden Smith and everyone beneath Jaden Smith; and Blake Lively (93), outranks Michael Fassbender (95) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (96). Uh, what?!
—Sandra Bullock tops the likability list: If you dial up the likability and dial down everything else, Bullock is No. 1. Interestingly, Jason Statham then rises all the way to No. 3
—Clint Eastwood is the most respected star: Rearrange the list by “most respected” and your top five becomes: Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Denzel Washington and Matt Damon. Yeah, that sounds about right.
— Who are the biggest tabloid targets? According to that factor, as determined by Vulture, it’s Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock. Keep in mind that this list is limited to movie stars, so the Kardashians of the world are not included.
— Is something wrong with the likability values? Admittedly, likability is a dodgy thing to objectively determine, as proven by my list of Indisputables. Vulture relied on scores from E-Poll, a market research firm, to provide data points. But I have to wonder who that firm is surveying. Tom Hanks’s likability is only at 77 percent? It should be in the high 90s — even people who hated “Forrest Gump” would agree with that. Ryan Gosling only has a 55 percent likability score, two full percentage points below Gwyneth Paltrow’s? Has that 45 percent haters’ club not seen all the memes?
Also worth noting: The principals from the “Twilight” saga — Stewart, Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson — all land in the bottom 10 when you sort by likability. Pattinson is at the absolute bottom of the list, below Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Zac Efron (he has that many detractors?) and Sacha Baron Cohen. So much for Team Edward.
What do you think of Vulture’s scientifically determined list? Does it seem largely spot-on? Please feel free to share your views on this breakthrough celebrity study by posting a comment.