It should come as no surprise that "Avatar" director James Cameron is the king of the world when it comes to Vanity Fair magazine's "Hollywood Top 40" ranking. After all, he's overseen the biggest movie of all time.
Ranked #4 last year, Cameron bumped up to the top of the list this year thanks to estimated earnings of a staggering $257 million in 2010. The total includes his lucrative pay deal for writing, producing and directing "Avatar," which had a worldwide box-office gross just shy of $2 billion, as well as his pay for the DVD and pay-television rights to the film. He raked in $5 million just in toy licensing and other revenue associated with the movie and $4 million for royalties and other payments from his older films.
Vanity Fair's list was put together based on estimates of the stars' up-front advance fees, shares of movie profits and worldwide box-office figures.
Not surprisingly, the #2 slot on the tally was held down by actor Johnny Depp, whose mainstream career has exploded over the past few years thanks to a number of lucrative franchises. Depp pulled down estimated earnings of $100 million, with $40 million alone for his fees to star in "Alice in Wonderland." The upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" netted him another $35 million, and he got a whopping $20 million paycheck for the poorly received Angelina Jolie co-starring flick "The Tourist."
The list was also crashed by the headline trio of the "Twilight Saga" series, with Taylor Lautner making the biggest splash at #9 on estimated earnings of $33.5 million. His cash mostly came from his $12.5 million paydays for the two-part "Breaking Dawn" films, as well as another $7.5 million for his role in the upcoming thriller "Abduction."
Co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were not far behind at, respectively, #13 and #15, with Stewart banking an estimated $28.5 million, with identical fees for her "Twilight" work, as well as $2.5 million for the adaptation of the Jack Kerouac classic "On the Road." Pattinson took home an estimated $27.5 million, again mostly for "Breaking Dawn," but also thanks a $1.5 million fee for starring with Reese Witherspoon in "Water for Elephants" and another $1 million for the costume drama "Bel Ami."
Other big movers in the top 15 are: director Steven Spielberg (#3, $80 million), "Inception" director Christopher Nolan (#4, $71.5 million) and star Leonardo DiCaprio (#5, $62 million), director Tim Burton (#6, $53 million), funnyman Adam Sandler (#7, $50 million), and "Hangover" director Todd Phillips (#8, $34 million).
Also making the list are "Wolverine" star Hugh Jackman (#37, $14 million), Tom Cruise (#35, $14.5 million), "Transformers" actor Shia LeBeouf (#34, $16 million), America's sweetheart Sandra Bullock (#22, $22 million), Angelina Jolie (#21, $23.5 million), Jennifer Aniston (#18, $24.5 million) and "Iron Man" himself, Robert Downey Jr. (#10, $31.5 million).