Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Top Box-Office Teens | March 14, 2010

Daniel Radcliffe was just 11 years old when he played Harry Potter for the first time in 2001’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” It was the young actor’s first major role, and for better or worse, it has come to define him. When the series ends in a few years, it will be difficult to see Radcliffe as anything but a grown-up Potter.

In Pictures: Top Box-Office Teens

He’s making grown-up money for the last two installments of Warner Bros.’ huge franchise: $20 million per film. The studio was happy to pay him — the “Harry Potter” films have earned a total $4.3 billion at the box office so far.

That makes Radcliffe and his co-stars Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron) the teens with the biggest hauls at the box office.

Studios love finding teen talent. Young actors (except Radcliffe) always earn far less than an adult would. Kids love to see movies featuring teens, and those kids will go see movies more than once and stock up on film merchandise.

To compile our list, we looked at Hollywood’s top stars 21 and under and then added up the worldwide box office for every movie they starred in.

Although it probably comes as little surprise that the “Harry Potter” kids rose to the top of the list, our second-ranked actress is less well-known. Dakota Fanning’s films have earned a whopping $2 billion at the box office.

The 16-year-old actress got her start in 2001’s “I Am Sam,” which starred Sean Penn as a mentally retarded father trying to gain custody of his 7-year-old daughter (Fanning). Since then the actress has been working almost nonstop. She’s starred in 12 films alongside such heavyweights as Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, and Mike Myers.

Fanning is now trying to shed her good-girl image with “The Runaways,” a film about the ’70s band led by Joan Jett. The movie premiered at the recent Sundance Festival to good reviews. It hits theaters in limited release this month.

Fanning co-stars in “The Runaways” with our third-ranked teen: Kristen Stewart. The two also appeared together in the latest “Twilight” film. Stewart’s movies have earned a total $1.5 billion at the box office. Although Stewart, 19, is now best known for the role of Bella in “Twilight,” she’s actually been acting since 2002 when she co-starred with Jodie Foster in the thriller “Panic Room.” The film earned $200 million at the box office. Her “Twilight” films have so far earned $1 billion.

Stewart’s co-star Robert Pattinson doesn’t make our list because he is over 21, but “New Moon’s” Taylor Lautner does. The 18-year-old ranks fourth with $900 million in box-office earnings. Much of that comes from “New Moon,” but Lautner also co-starred in the recent romantic hit “Valentine’s Day,” which has earned $125 million at the box office so far. Lautner is now the hottest thing in Hollywood. He’s been offered a reported $7.5 million to star in Universal’s “Stretch Armstrong.”

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