Regardless of how good or bad a Russell Crowe starring movie might end up being, you can always be certain of one thing, he will give a great performance.
Now let’s see if the box office success of his films can match the talent he constantly displays in them. We’ll be looking at his top 10 highest grossing movies worldwide, and as long as it’s not just a cameo, everything goes. You can probably guess already the title of the top flick but I bet some of the other names on here will surprise you.
10. Cinderella Man (2005) $108.5 million
Despite making the top 10 this sports drama was a major underperformer at the box office, having cost $88 million to produce. Cinderella Man ended up with 3 Oscar nominations but no wins. Overall it was one of the better movies of its year, so check it out if you haven’t already.
9. Body of Lies (2008) $115.1 million
This one I haven’t seen (shame on me) so I won’t comments on its quality. What I can do is assume Russell Crowe was great once again, starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio (which is another constantly good actor). Like Cinderella Man, this too was a box office bust ($70 million budget).
8. L.A. Confidential (1997) $126.2 million
Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger (won an Oscar) and Danny DeVito star alongside Russell Crowe in this noir classic. L.A. Confidential was successful enough at the box office and got 9 Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), winning 2 (what happens when you are up against Titanic).
7. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) $212 million
One of my personal favorites of Crowe’s career and one of the best movies of 2003. If not for Lords of the Rings: Return of the King winning everything, Master and Commander would have gotten a lot more than just 2 awards out of its 10 nominations. Now in terms of profitability, The Far Side of the World was a hugely expensive production (north of $150 million) so that $212 million worldwide take was nowhere near where it should have been, sadly.
6. American Gangster (2007) $266.5 million
Another Ridley Scott directed film (Body of Lies was also him), this one about the rise and fall of Frank Lucas’ drug empire. Lucas was played by Denzel Washington and the movie was nominated for 2 Oscars in 2008. With a $100 million budget, American Gangster made back its investment.
5. A Beautiful Mind (2001) $313.5 million
Had Russell Crowe won the Oscar for Best Actor for A Beautiful Mind in 2002, he could have joined Tom Hanks with two consecutive awards taken home (you’ll see which movie did get him the Oscar a few paragraphs below). Ron Howard directed A Beautiful Mind (he also did The Cinderella Man with Crowe) and out of 8 nominations, the movie got 4 awards (including Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Connelly, Best Director and Best Picture).
4. Robin Hood (2010) $321.7 million
Yet another Ridley Scott epic, Robin Hood was supposed to be the start of a trilogy, with the first movie setting up the characters before Russell Crowe eventually becomes the legendary outlaw that would steal from the rich to give to the poor. With $321.7 million worldwide, not even close to recouping $200 million it cost to make, the trilogy idea died.
3. Les Miserables (2012) $441.8 million
Have not seen this one either but I heard a lot of people like it so I guess it’s should be good. Tom Hooper directs this very successful musical (it cost only $61 million) that won 3 Oscars (including one for Anne Hathaway) out of 8 nominations.
2. Gladiator (2000) $457.6 million
This is hands down the motion picture that made Russell Crowe famous. Unlike other Best Picture winners which were tailored specifically for the awards season, Riddley Scott’s historical drama was a phenomenal 155 minutes epic that harkens back to the days of Ben-Hur as both a crowd and critic pleaser. Gladiator was nominated for 12 Oscars and eventually took home 5, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe (his first and only Oscar).
1. Man of Steel (2013) $668 million
Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, Man of Steel is a 5 out of 10, Russell Crowe would single-handedly get that up by at least 2 points. That’s how good he was in this movie. I’ll probably get some people angry out there but I truly believe Russell Crowe’s Jor-El was the best thing about this very successful Superman reboot.
What we can take from all of this is Russell Crowe knows how to pick his movies (was in 2 Best Picture winners) but he alone can’t push a movie to a successful box office run. Very few actors are genuine box office draws and while Crowe has some pull, it wasn’t enough to help something like Robin Hood.
Right now you can see Russell Crowe in the Bible epic Noah and it looks like that movie will easily get on this top 10. Noah is expected to open somewhere around $45 million in the US and add to that a decent amount from overseas too, where it has already grossed $22 million. By Sunday night Noah might have over or close to $100 million worldwide.
What is your favorite Russell Crowe movie?