Denzel Washington isn’t just a two-time Academy Award and three-time Golden Globe winner with a well-earned and fully deserved reputation as one of the greatest actors of the modern era; he’s also one of just a few stars in Hollywood capable of opening a movie based on nothing but their name alone, a rarity in an age where the franchise is king.
To illustrate that point, in the last 20 years he’s seen seven films open at the top of the box office, a further eleven have debuted no lower than third, and only six have failed to earn at least double their production budgets back in theaters. That’s an astonishing track record, but Washington has never starred in anything that’s earned over $300 million globally.
That’s a surprising statistic when you consider his enduring popularity and value within the industry, but he’s never shown much interest in lending his talents to the sort of mega budget blockbusters that haul in crazy numbers. In fact, his highest-grossing effort ever isn’t even an action movie, but a sprawling biopic.
As per Looper, Ridley Scott’s American Gangster earned $268 million back in 2007, and it still ranks as the heftiest hit of the leading man’s illustrious career. Behind it lies Ryan Reynolds two-hander Safe House with $207 million, while Oscar-winning 1993 drama Philadelphia is the third and final entry from his filmography to have even exceeded the $200 million barrier, which is something of a shock when you think of his incredibly successful back catalogue.