Saturday Night Live, now entering its 40th season, is the show that’s launched a thousand careers. As Claire Suddath points out, you can’t swing a driving cat without hitting an SNL writer or actor on TV these days; as the ranking below illustrates, they’ve also contributed to billions of dollars in box office revenues, according to movie revenue database Rentrak. What’s remarkable is the diversity of the show’s top-grossing alumni—for every superstar, there’s a prolific supporting actor, often more recognizable as the voice of a beloved movie ’toon than as an SNL alum.
Bloomberg ranked 140 former Saturday Night Live cast members by the gross revenue of their films released in North America, unadjusted for inflation, and identified the top 40. This group was then ranked on total inflation-adjusted box office receipts for their films’ original release. Ranking excludes films in which actors appeared briefly as themselves or were uncredited. Some films released before 1984 are not included because accurate figures from the studios were not available.
Photographs by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images (24); Paramount Pictures(4); 20th Century Fox Film Corp. (4); Buena Vista Pictures (3); Columbia Pictures (3); Universal Pictures (3); Warner Bros. Pictures (2); Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (2); ABC Photo Archives via Getty Images; Dreamworks; Pixar; Sony Pictures