20 Most Successful Movies With A Female Lead

Kill Bill: Vol 1 - $181 million (worldwide gross)

The Female Lead: Uma Thurman

Secrets Of Their Success: When most people see this film as another in a long line of cool-ass Tarantino flicks, it's easy to forget precisely how much Thurman brought to the success of the film.

Not only did she help to come up with the idea of the movie for Tarantino, creating the character herself, but the whole film hinges on her managing to perform awesome martial arts while also spouting super-cool dialogue. Not only did she deliver on both counts, we simply can't imagine anyone else who could.

Alien - $204 million

The Female Lead: Sigourney Weaver

Secrets Of Their Success: Hot on the tail of glossy sci-fi epic Star Wars , Ridley Scott made this dystopian flipside – a terrifying horror film filled with guts and gore and a crippling fear of an unknown vicious alien assailant.

The film made Sigourney Weaver’s name, thanks to a stunning breakout performance in which she remained strong throughout but ramped up her vulnerability, emphasising Ripley's helplessness as she found herself trapped in space with a gruesome acid-spitting ghoulie. Frankly, the film just wouldn’t have as much impact if Ripley were male, or indeed if anyone but Weaver played her.

Miss Congeniality - $213 million

The Female Lead: Sandra Bullock

Secrets Of Their Success: After a long time spent as the female co-star in drama films, action films, and comedy-drama-action films, Bullock had already made a name for herself before she had her first major solo lead role here.

The plot – which sees a bullish F.B.I. agent go undercover at a Miss United States beauty pageant – seems like generic sub-comical fare, but the movie is elevated thanks to a great script and Bullock’s own flair for the funny. In fact, her comedy chops have been so frequently seen over the course of her career that it's easy to forget exactly how naturally funny she is, and how much worse her films would be without her in the lead role.

Juno - $231 million

The Female Lead: Ellen Page

Secrets Of Their Success: Every now and then a credible Indie film comes along that breaks into the mainstream and enters the public consciousness in a major way. And, if we’re lucky, it’s a film that is also brilliantly quotable.

With teenage pregnancy becoming more and more of an issue, Juno – and more to the point, writer Diablo Cody – addressed the subject head-on, and did it in a cool, clever and comical way. The film made a star of Cody, who went on to win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for her script, while launching the career of the excellently sassy and hip Ellen Page along the way.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - $275 million

The Female Lead: Angelina Jolie

Secrets Of Their Success: The film was based on a massively successful computer game franchise and promised an action-packed updating of the kind of archeological adventures that made Indiana Jones so popular.

But what put the real dollar signs into the franchise was casting the relatively-unknown-at-the-time Angelina Jolie in the lead role. She took to the action sequences with gusto, impressing audiences with a strong, non-nonsense attitude and making herself a star in the process. And, of course, it helped with the fanboys that she looked like that .

Bridesmaids - $288 million

The Female Lead: Kristen Wiig

Secrets Of Their Success: A film that had spiralling success thanks to great early reviews and word of mouth, and proved to be an Apatow-produced female antidote to the Apatow-produced male-oriented bloke-coms.

Kristen Wiig co-wrote and starred in the film, which had the support of an excellent supporting cast, including a star-making turn from Melissa McCarthy, but mostly it just had lots and lots and lots of laughs.

Salt - $293.5 million

The Female Lead: Angelina Jolie

Secrets Of Their Success: An action-packed spy thriller starring one of the biggest names in showbiz, who is also one half of Hollywood’s premier power couple and consistently voted one of the world’s sexiest women? This one is a no-brainer.

Sex And The City 2 - $305 million

The Female Lead: Sarah Jessica Parker

Secrets Of Their Success: Having already had an extremely popular TV show and one box office smash hit to its name already a Sex And The City sequel was a done deal.

This time, fans of the show got to see their favourite characters take the next step in their lives and, while critics were quick to judge the film harshly, there's no quibbling with that $305 million take.

The Blind Side - $309 million

The Female Lead: Sandra Bullock

Secrets Of Their Success: In what seemed like a surprisingly mature role for Bullock at the time, The Blind Side absolutely has her top billing and her subsequent Best Actress Oscar win for the role to thank for its success.

As the caring foster mother who nurtures a homeless boy into becoming an NFL player, this was a more heartwarming side of Bullock that we had never really seen before and it made everyone reassess her as a very talented, versatile actress.

Black Swan - $329 million

The Female Lead: Natalie Portman

Secrets Of Their Success: This intimately-shot psychological thriller was never going to be a a summer tentpole release, but thanks to some enticingly dark and disturbing visuals and celebrated Hollywood names, the film received a lot of interest.

Of course Natalie Portman’s name went a long way to help with the film’s success, but her deserved Best Actress Oscar win - which she earned by putting herself through the paces both emotionally and with ballet training - helped to really put the film on the map.