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Spielberg Rides Big Beasts to Top Spot on Forbes List

September 09, 1997|From Associated Press

The public's willingness to pay to watch big, toothy beasts chase puny humans continues to line Steven Spielberg's pockets.

The dinosaurs of "The Lost World" and other projects carried filmmaker Spielberg to the top spot on Forbes magazine's list of the 40 best-paid entertainers--and transported Michael Crichton, the book's author, to No. 4, the highest any writer has reached.

Spielberg earned $313 million in 1996-97 for directing and producing the movie, from related merchandising deals and from other projects. Crichton's $102-million take was more than books alone could ever bring.

Right behind Spielberg on the Forbes list, released Monday, was another special-effects movie maven, George Lucas, who re-released his sci-fi trilogy, "Star Wars," "The Return of the Jedi" and "The Empire Strikes Back," this year and raked in $241 million.

Oprah Winfrey, last year's No. 1, finished a respectable third with $201 million. Last year, she needed only $171 million to top the list.

"The rewards of stardom keep climbing into the stratosphere," the magazine said in its Sept. 22 issue.

Winfrey and Spielberg had been trading the top two spots since 1993 in the rankings that combine entertainers' two-year estimated gross earnings in an attempt to get a more accurate assessment of overall income.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

* The Beatles, fifth with $98 million.

* Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, sixth, $94 million.

* Magician David Copperfield, seventh, $85 million.

* Horror writer Stephen King, eighth, $84 million.

* Tom Cruise, ninth, $82 million.

* Arnold Schwarzenegger, 10th, $74 million.

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