February 10, 2009 / 9:31 PM / in 9 years

Will Smith leads Forbes star bankability list

<p>U.S. actor Will Smith arrives for the premiere of "Seven Pounds" at the Empire cinema in Leicester Square, central London, January 14, 2009. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Will Smith was named Hollywood’s most bankable star in a survey of movie industry professionals released on Tuesday by Forbes.com, the Web site of financial magazine Forbes.

Smith, who received a perfect 10 on the survey, was followed on the Forbes list by Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Hollywood supercouple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who were all tied with a score of 9.89.

John Burman, special projects director for Forbes Media, said Smith, who won fame on 1990s television sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” can star in any movie genre.

“He can move from doing the pop film to an ‘Ali’ to a ‘Seven Pounds’ to ‘The Pursuit of Happyness,’ so he’s able to play in all worlds and I think people just like watching him on screen,” Burman said.

For its first-ever “Star Currency” list, measuring the financial clout of Hollywood stars to get movie projects going, Forbes surveyed more than 150 entertainment industry professionals, including producers and directors.

The stars were ranked on ability to attract financing for a project, box office success, appeal to different audience demographics and other factors.

The Philadelphia-born Smith’s latest movie “Seven Pounds” was released on December 19 and has made more than $141.6 million worldwide. He also starred in the 2008 summer hit “Hancock,” which made more than $624.4 million worldwide.

Most of the stars on Forbes’ top 100 Star Currency list are over 35, including 78-year-old “Gran Torino” star Clint Eastwood at No. 20.

The top 20-something actor was “Transformers” star Shia LaBeouf at No. 33, followed by “The Duchess” star Keira Knightley at No. 42.

Actors need time to establish a star “brand,” Burman said.

Also, some stars have international box office appeal that more than compensates for modest U.S. and Canada ticket sales.

The 45-year-old Pitt’s 2004 movie “Troy,” for example, made $133.4 million in the U.S. and Canada, but $364 million internationally. His 2006 movie “Babel” made $101 million internationally, nearly three times U.S. and Canada totals.

“He’s certainly strong in the U.S., but you see the global reach of him,” Burman said.

The Forbes list is online at Forbes.com/starcurrency.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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