Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman Australia’s Top-Earning Actors in 2011

8:36 PM PST 12/14/2011 by Pip Bulbeck

"Walking With Dinosaurs" creators Global Creatures tops BRW magazine’s rich entertainers list.

SYDNEY -- The global financial crisis hit the earnings of Australia’s top entertainers in the 2010-11 financial year, but leading ladies Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman proved they could still rake in the dollars in the tough times – largely through endorsements, according to business magazine BRW, which released its annual top entertainers rich list Thursday.

But while Australians with careers based in Hollywood made up nearly 40% of the list, it was Melbourne-based animatronic design and live event producers Global Creatures which topped the list, as it did last year, with $62 million earned, as it wrapped the global tour of its Walking With Dinosaurs arena show.

Next for Global Creatures is its joint venture show with DreamWorks, How To Train Your Dragon: the Arena Spectacular, set to premiere early in 2012.

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Perennial kids entertainers The Wiggles, long a mainstay of the 15-year old list, came in second with $28.2 million in earnings from DVD and CD sales and their live shows while Naomi Watts was the highest-ranking actor, third on the list with $19.1 million in earnings.

While Watts made several films including Dream House and J.Edgar in the 12-month period, it was coin from her deals with Pantene, fashion house Ann Taylor and Thierry Mugler’s Angel perfume that pushed her into the top three, according to the magazine.

Music promoter Michael Gudinski came in fourth overall with Australian tours of Justin Beiber, The Eagles, Leonard Cohen and Kylie Minogue during the year earning him and his Frontier Touring Co. $19 million, up from $7 million the previous year.

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Watts’s cohort, Nicole Kidman rounded out the top five with $18.6 million, which included earnings from her roles in Rabbit Hole and Just Go With It, boosted by endorsements such as Omega watches.

Aussie male stars weren’t far behind their female counterparts: Sam Worthington was sixth on the list with $18.1 million, Simon Baker earned $15 million from The Mentalist in tenth spot, Hugo Weaving returned to the list with $7.8 million (14th); Chris Hemsworth increased his earnings to $7.7 million (15th) and Geoffrey Rush made $6.6 million (19th).

The Kings Speech producer Emile Sherman made his debut on the list with $5 million in earnings, Cate Blanchett had a quiet year bringing in $4 million (28th), Emmy winner Guy Pearce earned $3.7 million (31) and HawaiiFive –O’s Alex O’Loghlin (32) made $3.5 million.

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Screenwriter and director Stuart Beattie’s earnings slipped to $3 million, while Bridesmaids co-star Rose Byrne, re-entered the list with $2.8 million, ahead of fellow A-listers, Toni Colette (43rd with $2.6 million), Hugh Jackman (44th with $2.5 million dropping 40 places after earning $20.5 million in 2010), Julian McMahon (46th also with $2.5 million) and Eric Bana (48th - $2.4 million).

Revelation 3D star Adelaide Clemens and Charlie's Angels and Red Dog star Rachael Taylor both debuted on the list with  $2.5 million and $2.4 million in earnings, respectively.

Missing the cut or disappearing from the list this year were Russell Crowe, Jesse Spencer, Mia Wasikowska, Rachel Griffiths; Tammin Sursok, Ryan Kwanten, Poppy Montgomery, Melissa George, Abbie Cornish and James Wan and Leigh Whannell.

Elsewhere, one of  Victoria’s Secret’s favorites, Miranda Kerr, earned $3.1 million, singer Kylie Minogue grossed $15 million mostly from her Aphrodite tour, AC/DC dropped to 13th with $9 million and Keith Urban rounded out the list in 50th spot with $2.3 million.

Overall the earnings of Australia’s top 50 entertainers dropped by 29% to $409 million for the 2010-11 financial year, although the cut off increased from $1.9 million to $2.3 million to make the list.

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