LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In the eyes of U.S. movie theater owners, Sandra Bullock shined as 2009's top Hollywood star at the box office, as the actress nicknamed "America's Sweetheart" scored with audiences after a two-year absence from screens.
Quigley Publishing Company's annual list released on Thursday of top money making stars, based on a poll of hundreds of theater executives, had Bullock beat out such stars as George Clooney and Denzel Washington, on the strength of her roles in "The Proposal" and "The Blind Side."
Romantic comedy "The Proposal" made $315 million at worldwide box offices following its June release, and football drama "The Blind Side" has made $193 million only in the U.S. and Canada since its November 20 release, with its roll-out in other countries still to come.
Bullock, who also starred in the 2009 comedy "All About Steve" with its $34 million take in the U.S. and Canada, is the eighth woman to top Quigley's list of top money making stars, which the company has put out each year since 1932.
Quigley Publishing said the list does not rank stars only on how much cash their films made, but on what theater owners say about who attracts audiences on their star power alone.
For instance, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" was the top movie at U.S. and Canada box offices in 2009 with more than $400 million, but many in Hollywood attribute that to the appeal of the franchise itself and the toys it's based on.
The last woman to top Quigley's list was Julia Roberts in 1999. She failed to make Quigley's 2009 top 10 this year, after her turn in romantic comedy "Duplicity" bombed at the box office.
Bullock scored her first smash hit with 1994 action movie "Speed" and became one of Hollywood's biggest stars, but before "The Proposal" she had not starred in a film since 2007.
"Public Enemies" star Johnny Depp came in at No. 2 on Quigley's top 10 list, followed by Matt Damon, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Denzel Washington.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant