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Britain’s most powerful film stars in Hollywood

Written by Chris Hastings

Challenge anyone to name the big players in British film and Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman are all likely to get a mention.

The actor who played Yosser Hughes in TV’s Boys from the Blackstuff and the man who co-wrote Spycatcher probably wouldn’t be given a second thought.

BRITAIN HARRY POTTER

But those two are surprise names on a list of the most powerful British film stars and movie-makers in Hollywood today. Winslet, Thompson and Rickman, on the other hand, don’t even make the grade.

The list, compiled by the UK Film Council, reveals the country’s most successful actors in terms of box office earnings over the course of the past five years. It also lists the most successful directors of the same period.

To qualify for the list, actors must have had significant roles in films with a box office haul of at least £500 million, while directors need to have taken at least a tenth of that with their own projects.

Orlando Bloom, 30, who starred in seven blockbusters, including the Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings franchises, tops the list with a combined box office gross of more than £2.6 billion.

But it isn’t only young talent who take star billing.

Sir Ian McKellen, 68, Christopher Lee, 85, Brian Cox, 61, and Bernard Hill, 62, who starred in Boys from the Blackstuff, all make the top 10, with an average age for the list of 41.

McKellen, one of Britain’s most celebrated stage actors, wasn’t even considered a film star until he reprised his acclaimed National Theatre portrayal of Richard III for the big screen in 1995.

But the actor, who once confessed he was frightened of the camera, now finds himself in second place, thanks largely to his starring role as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films. Hill makes the list thanks to his role as Theoden in the same trilogy.

Only six women appear on the two lists.

At 17, Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, is the most successful female star, ranked joint fourth alongside her co-stars.

Keira Knightley, who also appears in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is seventh, ahead of Kate Beckinsale and Helena Bonham Carter.

Mike Newell, the director of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, tops the list of directors, comfortably ahead of Ridley Scott, whose three separate hits earned him second place.

Paul Greengrass, who directed The Bourne Supremacy and co-wrote the banned book Spycatcher with renegade MI5 agent Peter Wright, was ranked number four.

John Woodward, the chief executive of the UK Film Council, trumpeted the list as proof that British films and British talent were dominating box offices around the world.

“British talent is riding high and in demand for the world’s biggest films,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

But some movie experts expressed disappointment that stars such as Winslet had missed out by choosing low-budget movies.

Louise Tutt, the deputy editor of Screen International, said the rankings had more to do with the success of individual films than the bankability of their stars.

“It’s about the popularity of Lord of The Rings, not about Orlando and Ian who were in them,” she said.

The recent success of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which was released this year and so not included, will keep both Bloom and Knightley on the list for some while.

But many in the industry predict that others could quickly fall by the wayside and doubt the capacity of older stars to keep picking up lead roles in blockbusters.

Mark Denning, the editor of Empire magazine, said: “It is unlikely that Orlando will carry on at that level of box office success because there aren’t many blockbusters around. But he will certainly hover around the top for a while.”

A new generation of actors is already beginning to challenge them.

Daniel Craig, who recently made his debut as James Bond, will rocket up the list as further films are released.

So will Emily Blunt, who was inundated with offers after her scene-stealing appearance in The Devil Wears Prada. The UK Film Council compiled the list based on the 200 most successful films released between 2001 and 2006.

TOP 10 MONEY-MAKERS:

Orlando Bloom – Lord of the Rings trilogy, three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven: £2.64 billion

Ian McKellen – Lord of the Rings trilogy, X Men trilogy, Da Vinci Code: £2.33 billion

Christopher Lee – two Lord of the Rings films, two Star Wars films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: £1.86 billion

Daniel Radcliffe/Emma Watson/Rupert Grint – four Harry Potter films: £1.75 billion

Bernard Hill – two Lord of the Rings films, The Scorpion King, Gothika: £1.16 billion

Ewan McGregor – two Star Wars films, Robots, Moulin Rouge, The Island, Black Hawk Down: £1.12 billion

Keira Knightley – two Pirates of the Caribbean films, Love Actually, King Arthur: £1.07 billion

Sean Bean – Lord of the Rings, Troy, National Treasure and Flight Plan: £956 million

Brian Cox – Troy, X Men, two of the Bourne trilogy, The Ring: £813 million

Ralph Fiennes – one Harry Potter film, Red Dragon, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Maid in Manhattan: £713 million

TOP FIVE UK DIRECTORS:

Mike Newell – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: £442 million

Ridley Scott – Black Hawk Down, Hannibal, Kingdom of Heaven: £356 million

Christopher Nolan – Batman Begins: £184 million

Paul Greengrass – The Bourne Supremacy: £142 million

Beeban Kidron – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason: £129 million


Original article can be found here at The Telegraph I August 8, 2007

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