The most famous couple on the planet, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, are not its most consistent box-office draws. But thanks to the profitability of their coupledom, they don’t need to be: They make money in endorsements and baby pictures and focus on the films that interest them.
Since pairing off with Jolie on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith in 2005, Pitt has ceased doing blockbuster schlock like Troy, working with a who’s who of auteur directors instead—Tarantino, Fincher, Malick, and the Coen brothers among them. Prior to Pitt, Jolie averaged two live-action movies a year. In 2011, she starred in zero, having spent the whole year working on In the Land of Blood and Honey, a small foreign-language movie about the Bosnian war that she wrote and directed.
The pair’s choosiness has been enabled, not hurt, by their ubiquity. The duo has appeared, alone and together, on the cover of People 22 times; before they were a couple, Pitt appeared eight times, and Jolie just once. They’re highly paid spokespeople for everything from Heineken to Louis Vuitton (whose recent deal with Jolie netted her a reported $10 million). And since getting together, they have seen their box-office grosses actually grow, meaning each can demand more money for blockbuster work when they do take it (a reported $20 million for Jolie to star in Salt, $10 million for Pitt to lead Inglourious Basterds) and practically donate their star power to smaller projects (Pitt reportedly took only $1 million for The Assassination of Jesse James, for instance). Their enduring appeal is a fairly direct refutation of the notion that the decline of the movie star can be pinned on actors’ overexposure.
Brangelina Portfolio: $270,000,000
Endorsements: Louis Vuitton, Heineken Japan, Tag Heuer, St. Johns, Shiseido skin care, Roots Coffee, Softbank cell phones, and others.
New Roles: Moneyball, Tree of Life.
Residuals: Troy, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Salt, and movies dating back through 1987’s Less Than Zero (Pitt) and 1995’s Hackers (Jolie).
Baby Photos: Reportedly $14 million for photos of the twins, $4.1 million for photos of Shiloh, $2 million for postadoption pictures of Pax.