It's that time of year again, when Hollywood's biggest stars harvest their multiplex crops, drop the hammer on their mums and size up their places among Forbes's annual list of highest-paid movie stars. As we've come to expect, it's Will Smith's world, with the megastar and noted Scientology-school patron raking in $80 million since last June; the remainder of the list comprises mainstays like Johnny Depp ($72 million) and Leonardo DiCaprio ($45 million) along with slip-sliding shockers including Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers, each tied at $55 million thanks in large part to the Shrek franchise's enduring success.
We're troubled, however, to read for what feels like the the thousandth time that the ladies aren't quite measuring up:
In an era where risk-averse studio executives have declared men the more reliable movie stars—and the more desirable moviegoers—perhaps it's no surprise that they are also the medium's top earners. The reality: Hollywood's 10 best-paid actors out-earned Hollywood's 10 best-paid actresses 2-to-1 over the course of the year.
Collectively, the big screen's leading men took home an estimated $487 million between June 1, 2007, and June 1, 2008, compared with the leading ladies' haul of $244.5 million.
However, in an even more revealing Forbes slideshow for the prose-impaired, we discovered that actresses fared much better in the "Ultimate Payback" category, which calculates the best gross-to-salary ratios in the biz. While a pre-Fred Claus Vince Vaughn ranked #1, Julia Roberts, Naomi Watts, Jennifer Aniston, Renee Zellweger and Jodie Foster cracked the top 15 as well. (That'll happen when you're relatively underpaid; top-earning actress Cameron Diaz is way down at #32.) Prepare yourself for Christian Bale's controversial post-Dark Knight ascent, followed by the touching, accompanying profile of how the strapping star went from clown's son to box-office powerhouse.