I saw this story from Forbes magazine posted on Yahoo!
Forbes: Hollywood's Animation A-List by Dorothy Pomerantz · March 25, 2009
They don't have to sit for hours in hair and makeup, they don't have to leave L.A. and they don't even need to get out of their sweatpants. No wonder Hollywood's top actors love doing voice work on animated films.
But for all the hundreds of actors who've added their voices and names to cartoon movies in the past 30 years, only a handful have had breakthrough success, becoming almost as famous for their imaginary alter-egos as they are for their in-the-flesh work on screen.
Nowhere is that more true than in the "Shrek" movies. Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy have become indispensable players in the DreamWorks Animation franchise. Usually big names are lucky to earn $5 million for voice work. The "Shrek" players were reportedly able to demand upward of $10 million each for the latest (and last) Shrek film, "Shrek Forever After", which hits theaters in 3-D (natch) this summer. Myers raked in about $108,000 a minute for his work last time around. As for Murphy, the $10 million to play Donkey is good money, but it's just half of what he could earn on a live-action comedy.
The Shrek films have earned $2.2 billion at the worldwide box office so far and the film's stars have earned gobs of media attention for their roles. That helped push Myers and Diaz (who play ogre husband and wife Shrek and Fiona) to the top of our Animation A-List.
Hollywood's Animation A-List To compile our list we looked at box office earnings from Box Office Mojo and press mentions (using Factiva) for actors who had voiced characters in movies over the last 30 years. Press mentions were restricted to the six months before and after the film opened. If an actor appeared in more than one film, we took an average of box office and an average of press clips. We then ranked the actors by box office and ranked them by press mentions and then added up the rankings. So in several cases actors tie in their ranking (from adding up the two rank numbers) but have different box office and press numbers.
George Clooney got the most press mentions with 2,580 for last year's Fantastic Mr. Fox, but because the film only grossed $43 million he doesn't make our list.
1. Mike Myers Average Box Office: $728 million
Average Press Mentions: 1,830
When Mike Myers showed his face on movie screens around the world in the 2008 film The Love Guru, he experienced one of the worst bombs of his career. Myers does better when he's in hiding with movies like The Cat in the Hat and the animated Shrek trilogy. The Shrek films have earned $2.2 billion at the worldwide box office so far. The fourth (and last) Shrek movie hits theaters this summer.
2. Cameron Diaz Average Box Office: $728 million
Average Press Mentions: 1,809
Princess Fiona, who exudes good will and girl power, is the kind of character one could see Cameron Diaz playing in real life except for one thing: She's an ogre. But of course that makes Shrek and the gang love her even more. Diaz reportedly earned $10 million for her work in the upcoming Shrek Forever
3. Jack Black (Tie) Average Box Office: $500 million
Average Press Mentions: 2,000
Po the Panda's surprising Kung Fu abilities charmed audiences to the tune of $632 million at the worldwide box office. So it's no surprise Dreamworks Animation is working on a sequel for summer 2011. Kaboom of Doom will reunite Black with his fellow kung fu stars: Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Seth Rogen.
Black also starred in the less successful 2004 film "Shark Tale," which also featured Will Smith. Black's films have earned an average $500 million at the worldwide box office and he was featured in an average 2,000 press clippings around his movies.
3. Owen Wilson (Tie) Average Box Office: $462 million
Average Press Mentions: 2,400
Owen Wilson was an inspired choice for the voice of racecar Lightening McQueen in the 2006 Pixar film Cars. His laid-back Texas drawl helped make McQueen, an obnoxious rookie who learns the value of friendship, much more loveable. A sequel to the film is in the works and Disney is busy transforming part of the California Adventure park at Disneyland into Cars.
The movie itself earned $460 million at the worldwide box office and Wilson was mentioned in 2,400 press stories. A sequel to Cars is in the works and could hit theaters in the summer of 2011.
5. Ellen DeGeneres (Tie) Average Box Office: $865 million
Average Press Mentions: 1,365
The same year Ellen DeGeneres launched her TV talk show, she stared opposite Albert Brooks in the Pixar film Finding Nemo. DeGeneres' comedic turn as Dory the forgetful fish helped earn the film $865 million at the box office, making Finding Nemo one of Disney's highest grossing films of all time. Despite the film's popularity, Pixar has never discussed a sequel.
5. Eddie Murphy (Tie) Average Box Office: $622 million
Average Press Mentions: 1,590
Despite his notorious distaste for promoting his movies, Murphy still gets an average 1,590 press mentions when he does animation work. His sunny Donkey has become one of DreamWorks' most popular characters. He even contributed several songs to the Shrek soundtracks, including "Try a Little Tenderness" on the 2001 film.
Murphy landed in fifth place on our list because we averaged in his work in the 1998 Disney film Mulan, which earned $300 million at the worldwide box office (low by Shrek standards). Murphy's animated films have earned an average $622 million each at the box office, and he racked up an average 1,590 press mentions in the year surrounding each film. Myers and Diaz each have an average animated box office of $728 million, but Myers was mentioned in 1,830 stories while Diaz was mentioned in 1,809 stories.
7. Ben Stiller (Tie) Average Box Office: $570 million
Average Press Mentions: 1,457
The two Madagascar movies have earned a total $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office and inspired thousands of children to run around their playgrounds singing: “We like to move it move it!” Although the films also star Chris Rock, Stiller gets the lion's share (pun intended) of the publicity for his work as Alex, a city lion out of his element in Africa.
7. Tom Hanks (Tie) Average Box Office: $384 million
Average Press Mentions: 1,600
Most adults think of Tom Hanks for his work in Oscar-worthy films like Forrest Gump, The Green Mile and Saving Private Ryan. But to kids, Hanks is Woody. The two Toy Story movies have so far grossed $880 million at the worldwide box office including a recent 3-D re-release of both movies. Toy Story 3 hits theaters this summer.
9. Ray Romano Average Box Office: $641 million
Average Press Mentions: 917
The most recent Ice Age movie, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, was a surprisingly huge hit internationally, earning $688 million outside of the U.S. (compared with $196 million domestically). Overall the three films have earned a total $1.9 billion at the worldwide box office. Much of that is thanks to Romano's sad sack voice work as Manny the woolly mammoth.
9. Jim Carrey Average Box Office: $310 million
Average Press Mentions: 1,807
In Robert Zemeckis' latest telling of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Jim Carrey played eight different roles thanks to the magic of motion capture. He also voiced Horton in Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who in 2008. By animation standards, Carrey's films haven't been huge earners. A Christmas Carol brought in $325 million while Horton earned $300 million.
"I'd like to cover you with furs and automobiles!"
(This post was edited by zavkram on Mar 26, 2010, 1:54 AM)
I have to disagree with the contention of this article that any of those people are voice-actors. None of them are. They are all Hollywood movie stars that were persuaded to do an animated film. Whether they were god awful horrible or passable at best (which is where most of them come in- I'd say Ellen DeGeneres or Tom Hanks & Tim Allen were the only ones so far to give exceptional performances), they attracted people to the film based on the strength of their name, not their voice over talents or abilities.