The young stars in Hollywood might get most of the attention, but the older generation gets most of the money. The top over-50 celebrities earned a collective $1.2 billion. By contrast the top-earning under-30 crowd earned only $506 million. Our estimates look at earnings between June 2009 and June 2010.
As the director of the highest-grossing film of all time, Cameron is definitely "king of the world." Avatar has earned $2.7 billion at the box office alone and has changed the way Hollywood makes films. In the near future almost every studio blockbuster will be released in 3-D. Cameron is already at work on two Avatar sequels.
With DreamWorks safely ensconced at Disney, Spielberg can forget about corporate intrigue and go back to the business of making movies, like his adaptation of the classic comic Tintin. The director continues to earn money from his biggest hits, like Jaws and Jurassic Park, and gets a portion of all ticket sales at Universal theme parks.
Lucas doesn't have to move a muscle, and he still makes money. The director/producer gets paid anytime a Star Wars movie is shown and every time a kid buys any Star Wars merchandise. That doesn't mean Lucas is resting on his laurels. He's producing the movie Red Tails about the Tuskegee Airmen.
The show about nothing continues to pull in tens of millions of dollars each year for the world's top-earning comedian. After airing for nine seasons on NBC, Seinfeld has made $2.7 billion since it went off the air 12 years ago, a jaw-dropping figure Time Warner (who owns the show) publicized this spring. Seinfeld's stand-up act remains lucrative and another NBC series, the unscripted Marriage Ref, brings in producer fees.
The former ad man's novels account for 1 out of every 17 books sold in the U.S. In addition to his successful Alex Cross and Women's Murder Club books Patterson has written a biography, Against Medical Advice, about a man with a mysterious medical condition. In his spare time Patterson reviews movies on his website.
The poet laureate of New Jersey continues to connect with fans around the world. Backed by the E Street Band, Springsteen sold more than 2 million tickets on his world tour, which grossed $167 million, enough to make it the third highest-grossing tour in the world. Heavy radio play on classic rock stations and a steady-selling backlist adds to his bottom line.
Stern's Sirius Radio deal continues to pay him $100 million annually (less the production costs for the show, which come out of his pocket). The veteran shock-jock generated headlines earlier this year when his name was floated as a possible replacement for departing American Idol super-judge Simon Cowell. His five-year contract expires at the end of the year.