Forbes estimates that the Mission Impossible star earned $75 million US between May 2011 and May 2012, compared to $37 million US each for DiCaprio and Sandler.
The ranking was released Tuesday on Cruise’s 50th birthday (July 3) and just days after news emerged that his third wife, actress Katie Holmes, has filed for divorce.
Cruise’s 2011-12 income was boosted by the success of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which earned $700 million US at the box office. His latest, Rock of Ages, is getting mixed results in theatres. However, he has another film, the upcoming sci-fi tale Oblivion, hitting theatres in April. Meanwhile, a trailer for another new project, the crime drama Jack Reacher, was posted online Tuesday.
Cruise’s bankability has earned him the support of Paramount. The studio issued a statement expressing support for the actor in light of the divorce, which has put him under media scrutiny at a time when public perception could affect the box office potential of his movies.
"His ability to make a great movie... is the thing moviegoers remember above all else," the studio in a statement, adding that Cruise's personal life has no bearing on his acting ability.
Holmes filed for divorce from Cruise in New York, where the courts take a family’s entire income into consideration when deciding child support payments. She has applied for sole custody of their daughter, Suri. Cruise’s lawyers have said he will file a rival divorce claim in California. The couple reportedly have a prenuptial agreement.
In compiling this yearly list, Forbes considers factors such as upfront pay, profit participation, residuals, endorsements and advertising work.
DiCaprio has long been one of Hollywood’s best-paid actors and topped the Forbes tally in 2011. He had a huge hit with2010's Inception, which made $825 million US at the box office. However, his most recent film J. Edgar was a box office disappointment that left his income lower.
Funnyman Sandler doesn’t seem to worry much about critical acclaim. His comedies, even universally panned offerings such as Jack and Jill, attract a certain audience and do well at the box office. In 2011, he also had earnings from Zookeeper and Just Go With It.
Also among the top 10 are Mark Wahlberg, who scored a hit with his action film Contraband and is an executive producer of cable TV series Boardwalk Empire, and former professional wrestler Dwayne Johnson, who placed fourth after receiving huge earnings from his turn in the car-theft action thriller Fast Five.