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Top Gun: Maverick is still proving to be a box office juggernaut, but it’s not the only one of star Jennifer Connelly’s. Getting off to an impressive, yet low-grossing, start in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, Connelly then branched off to obscure, surreal horror for Dario Argento’s Phenomena and put in an appearance for Jim Henson’s cult-classic, David Bowie-starring film Labyrinth.
Connelly’s next big role would come in Disney’s The Rocketeer, the first of several superhero movies in her filmography, but the performer spent most of the 1990s starring in independent films, culminating in 2000’s Requiem for a Dream. Darren Aronofsky’s sweat-inducing withdrawal movie pushed Connelly back in the center of the spotlight, and her following projects’ tallies on Box Office Mojo serve as proof more often than not.
10 The Dilemma (2011) — $48 Million
Connelly reteamed with A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard for the poorly-reviewed and fairly bland dark comedy The Dilemma. A movie that suffers from an inconsistent tone, the plot follows two business partners (played by Vince Vaughn and Kevin James) working on a make-or-break project. Unfortunately, the former sees the latter’s wife (Winona Ryder) getting hot and heavy with another man.
Connelly portrays Beth, the long-term girlfriend of Vaughn’s Ronny Valentine, and the narrative, unfortunately, doesn’t find much for a talent like Connelly to really chew on. The film was also a financial failure, earning just under $70 million worldwide on an identical budget.
9 Blood Diamond (2006) — $57 Million
Edward Zwick’s (Glory) South African civil war movie, Blood Diamond, is too densely-plotted to be considered a straightforward entertainer, making widespread box office success less likely even with marquee names such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Connelly, and Djimon Hounsou. DiCaprio portrays a South African mercenary who teams with a fisherman (Hounsou) to recover an extremely valuable diamond before it gets into the hands of criminals. Connelly portrays a kind-hearted journalist who proves to be the only one the two men can rely on, with or without the jewel.
If Blood Diamond didn’t have a massive budget of $100 million, it would be considered a relatively successful dramatic actioner. With a domestic haul of $57 million, the film wasn’t off to the best of starts, even if the star power of Connelly and DiCaprio was enough to get it another $114 million overseas.
8 The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) — $79 Million
Connelly portrays Helen Benson, an astrobiologist who gets ample one on one time to study Reeves’ extraterrestrial, Klaatu, who is inarguably the star of the show, making The Day the Earth Stood Still yet another studio film that wastes Connelly’s talent. However, the film generated a fair bit of audience interest and had the appearance of a blockbuster film in spite of a relatively modest $80 million budget, a figure which it nearly made in the domestic market alone. However, it did even better overseas, generating a further $150 million, making the film somewhat of a minor hit.
7 Alita: Battle Angel (2019) — $86 Million
Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel had been in one stage of production or the other dating as far back as 2003. What ended up on the screen could have been a flop not unlike Mortal Engines (2018), another massively-budgeted adaptation of a lesser-known property.
However, while that Peter Jackson-produced film didn’t even get earn back its $100-$150 million budget worldwide, Alita managed to double the high end of her $150-$200 million budget with $405 million worldwide. Admittedly, a film needs to gain about three times its production budget in worldwide revenue to flip over into profitability, but Alita has still managed to be viewed as a minor success. And, given the film’s relatively high quality, there’s no doubt it’s the type to do as well if not better on streaming and Blu-ray than in theaters.
6 He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) — $94 Million
He’s Just Not That Into You features a massive lineup of lovesick characters, including Connelly’s Janine, the wife of Bradley Cooper’s philandering Ben, who’s recently taken up with yoga instructor Anna (Scarlett Johansson). Janine is one of the film’s stronger and more likable characters.
Warner Bros.’ star-studded rom-com performed above the usual threshold for the genre, scoring a domestic tally of nearly $94 million and an equally impressive international tally of just about $85 million. Nothing about the narrative sets He’s Just Not That Into You apart from other comparable films of its era, so there’s little doubt that the star power of Connelly and others was a driving factor in its success.
5 Noah (2014) — $101 Million
Darren Aronofsky has never made conventional films, whether it’s Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, or Black Swan; his directorial work tends to inspire walkouts from those who can’t get on or appreciate his wavelength. This was never more true than his teaming with Jennifer Lawrence for Mother!, but fellow pseudo-biblical film Noah generated controversy all its own. The plot, naturally, focuses on the construction of Noah’s ark, but also has the titular character, his wife, Naameh (Connelly), and their children go up against Ray Winstone’s sinister and brutal Tubal-cain.
Almost no aspect of Noah lines up with what a Christianity aficionado would expect, much less a devout ticket buyer genuinely expecting a straightforward cinematic translation. Aronofsky’s film opened to a respectable $43.7 million but barely doubled that to the tune of $101 million domestic. On a $125 million budget, that would be seen as troubling, but it also earned a phenomenal $258 million from international ticket sales.
4 Hulk (2003) — $132 Million
The success of the well-aged X-Men in 2000 hinted that superhero movies were about to start trending. And if 2002’s Spider-Man solidified that thought, 2003’s comics adaptations showed the importance of staying true to the characters of the source material. Like Daredevil from earlier the same year, Hulk opened to mixed to negative reviews and lukewarm box office tallies.
At the very least, critics took to Connelly’s performance as Betty Ross, as well as Sam Elliot as her father, General “Thunderbolt” Ross. But Ang Lee’s experimental choices as director indicate there still wasn’t a reliable formula set for the subgenre. Huk also lacks the overwhelming sense of fun present in Spider-Man, with pacing issues and a dour tone, making it far from the type to receive repeat business weekend after weekend. Even still, while Hulk could never have realistically been expected to pass Spidey’s $407 million domestic haul; its $132 million U.S. total on a budget of $137 million is nothing short of a disappointment.
3 A Beautiful Mind (2001) — $170 Million
Ron Howard’s Oscar darling A Beautiful Mind scored a lot of attention and praise from both critics and general audiences, but its financial success arguably surpassed its sterling critical appraisal.
A Beautiful Mind was hands down one of the biggest successes of director Howard’s career thus far, scoring a $170 million domestic tally (and another $146 million internationally) on a budget of only $58 million. While that’s a high budget for a dramatic biopic, Mind also had the marquee names of Howard (fresh off of How the Grinch Stole Christmas), Connelly, and Crowe (fresh off of Gladiator), and the gamble ended up being a home run.
2 Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) — $334 Million
Connelly doesn’t show her face in Spidey’s first solo MCU adventure, Spider-Man: Homecoming, but she does lend her cadence to Karen, the Tony Stark-provided voice in Peter Parker’s ear.
Homecoming was a major hit for Sony and Disney/the MCU, especially considering the fact that Andrew Garfield’s brief run as the web-spinner ended poorly with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just two years prior. But the combination of Jon Watts’ sterling direction, the inclusion of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Michael Keaton’s phenomenal performance as Vulture, and Tom Holland’s already-proven take on the character ensured Homecoming would be a smash. It all came together to earn an impressive $334 million domestically (and $880 million including international sales).
1 Top Gun: Maverick (2022) — $570 Million (As Of 7/06)
Top Gun: Maverick still has money to make in theaters, but it’s already the highest-grossing film of Connelly’s long career. Part of the reason for its massive success is reverence for the original, which extends all the way to the name given to Connelly’s character, Penny Benjamin.
Taking over for Kelly McGillis as the title character’s romantic interest, Connelly makes Benjamin (the “admiral’s daughter”) seem like a true-to-life smalltown woman from a military family, and her presence is just one of many assets that allow Maverick to soar even higher in 2022 than in 1986, having earned $570 million domestically as of early July.
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