The biggest movie directors rank among the wealthiest people in Hollywood — and the world. Although not as recognizable as A-list actors, great directors fill a crucial function by bringing movies to life from behind the camera.
As awards season quickly approaches, many are wondering who will win the coveted Oscar for Best Director. This moviemaker will almost certainly be enshrined among Hollywood’s film legends for years to come.
Here is a look at the best-known, most successful and richest directors in Tinseltown.
Spike Lee Net Worth: $40 Million
Spike Lee’s 65 credits as a director include iconic films like “Do the Right Thing,” “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever” and “Malcolm X.” He’s currently working on two projects: “Go Brasil Go!” and “She’s Gotta Have It.”
In 2016, Lee received an honorary Academy Award. He was nominated for two others: “Do the Right Thing” in 1990 and “4 Little Girls” in 1998. “Do the Right Thing” was also nominated for two Golden Globes, one for Best Director and another for Best Screenplay.
Adjusted for inflation, Lee’s highest-grossing movie, “Inside Man,” took in $116.3 million domestically at the box office. In total, his movies have earned $668.1 million domestically when adjusted for inflation.
Kathryn Bigelow Net Worth: $40 Million
Kathryn Bigelow has 19 directing credits to her name dating back to 1978, including “Point Break” and television’s “Homicide: Life on the Street.” More recent successes include “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker.” She’s currently working on “The Protectors,” a virtual reality documentary short film due out in 2016, and an untitled project due in 2017.
“The Hurt Locker” won an Oscar for Best Picture, and “Zero Dark Thirty” was nominated in the same category. Both films were nominated for Golden Globes. “Zero Dark Thirty” is Bigelow’s highest-grossing movie, pulling in $132.8 million globally.
In total, her movies have earned $331.4 million worldwide.
John Singleton Net Worth: $50 Million
John Singleton’s first credit as a director was for “Boyz n the Hood,” the movie that helped make his career. The 1991 portrait of daily life in the crime and poverty-stricken Los Angeles neighborhood of Crenshaw earned him two Oscar nominations, one for Best Screenplay and another for Best Director.
He went on to direct hit films like “Poetic Justice,” “Higher Learning” and “Rosewood” and episodes of “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and “Empire.” When adjusted for inflation, his movies have earned nearly $743.4 million at the domestic box office.
Singleton is currently working on two TV movies, “Rebel” and “Snowfall,” both due out in 2017. A TV series, also called “Rebel,” is slated for release the same year.
Judd Apatow Net Worth: $90 Million
Judd Apatow’s directorial debut occurred in 1998 with an episode of “The Larry Sanders Show.” He went on to cement his status as a comedy icon — while helping launch the careers of Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and other successful actors — with “Freaks and Geeks,” a short-lived but beloved series. His resume also includes “Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” “Funny People” and “Trainwreck.”
In 2008, Apatow was nominated for a Golden Globe. He’s also won an Emmy and was nominated for six others throughout his career. Adjusted for inflation, his movies have earned nearly $697 million at the worldwide box office, with three of them grossing more than $100 million.
Quentin Tarantino Net Worth: $100 Million
A high school dropout and former video store clerk, Quentin Tarantino is one of the most acclaimed directors of his generation. His masterpiece, “Pulp Fiction,” was the first independent film ever to gross more than $200 million.
When adjusted for inflation, his films have earned nearly $890 million at the domestic box office, with “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Django Unchained” and “Pulp Fiction” taking in more than $100 million each.
Tarantino won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for both “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained” and was nominated for several others. Recently, Tarantino announced that he will be making a third installment of the “Kill Bill” franchise, but a release date has not yet been set.
Martin Scorsese Net Worth: $100 Million
Among the most accomplished and celebrated directors in the history of American cinema, Martin Scorsese boasts a resume that includes iconic films like “Mean Streets,” “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “Goodfellas” and “Gangs of New York.”
He won an Academy Award for “The Departed” and was nominated for 11 others. He has also won four Golden Globes.
Scorsese is currently working on two new movies, “Sinatra” and “The Irishman,” due out in 2018. When adjusted for inflation, his movies have earned a combined $1.7 billion at the domestic box office, with “The Departed” leading the pack at $173.2 million.
Tim Burton Net Worth: $140 Million
Tim Burton’s 36 directing credits include some of the most imaginative and beloved movies of all time, such as “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands.” A second installment of “Beetlejuice” is in the works, but no release date has been set.
Burton has directed eight movies that earned more than $100 million, when adjusted for inflation, with 1989’s “Batman” raking in $542 million. He was nominated for two Academy Awards and a Golden Globe.
Ron Howard Net Worth: $140 Million
Although he’s known for early roles in “Dennis the Menace,” “Happy Days” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” Ron Howard has acting credits dating back to the 1950s. As a director, he’s created some of the most critically and commercially successful films of all time, including “Cocoon,” “Splash,” “Backdraft,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Apollo 13” and “A Beautiful Mind,” which earned him two Oscars.
Howard is currently at work on three upcoming projects: “Zelda,” “The Girl Before” and an episode of TV’s “Genius.” When adjusted for inflation, his film earnings total more than $3.2 billion at the domestic box office — and a dozen earned more than $100 million each.
Ridley Scott Net Worth: $200 Million
Ridley Scott is the mind behind sci-fi classics like “Alien” and “Blade Runner,” acclaimed dramas like “American Gangster” and “Gladiator” and groundbreaking military films like “G.I. Jane” and “Black Hawk Down.” He’s currently working on “Alien: Covenant” and a TV miniseries called “The Hot Zone.”
Scott has been nominated for four Academy Awards and three Golden Globes. His movies have earned more than $3.6 billion at the global box office, with eight films taking in more than $200 million each. “The Martian” alone earned $630.2 million.
Francis Ford Coppola Net Worth: $300 Million
Although he has 34 credits as a director dating back to 1959, Francis Ford Coppola will always be remembered for his twin masterpieces, “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II.”
He won Oscars for “Patton” and “The Godfather” and took home three more Academy Awards for “The Godfather: Part II.” The Academy also honored him with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. In total, his movies have earned more than $965.5 million at the worldwide box office, according to The Numbers.
Clint Eastwood Net Worth: $375 Million
Clint Eastwood is one of Hollywood’s most successful and acclaimed icons on both sides of the camera. When adjusted for inflation, his movie earnings total more than $3 billion at the domestic box office. A dozen earned more than $100 million, including “American Sniper,” which took home $371 million. Films directed by Eastwood have grossed more than $4.74 billion.
His directing resume includes “High Plains Drifter,” “Unforgiven,” “Mystic River,” “Gran Torino,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Flags of Our Fathers” and, most recently, “Sully.” He won two Academy Awards for “Unforgiven,” two for “Million Dollar Baby” and was nominated for another seven Oscars.
Mel Gibson Net Worth: $425 Million
Although he only has seven credits as a director, Mel Gibson is one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed filmmakers, responsible for epics like “Braveheart,” “Apocalypto,” “The Passion of the Christ” and “Hacksaw Ridge.” The star of the “Mad Max” and “Lethal Weapon” franchises, Gibson has enjoyed success on both sides of the camera.
Adjusted for inflation, the movies he directed have grossed more than $838 million at the domestic box office; and, as an actor, his movies have earned nearly $3.9 billion. “Braveheart” won him two Oscars, one for Best Director and one for Best Picture.
James Cameron Net Worth: $700 Million
The No. 1 and No. 2 highest-grossing movies of all time are both James Cameron films. “Avatar” took in about $2.8 billion at the global box office, with “Titanic” not far behind at around $2.2 billion. In all, his movies have earned more than $6.1 billion worldwide.
Cameron’s hits include “The Terminator,” “Aliens” and “The Abyss.” He won three Oscars for “Titanic,” and “Avatar” earned him three nominations. He has several projects in the works between now and 2023, including four “Avatar” sequels.
Steven Spielberg Net Worth: $3.5 Billion
Perhaps no figure in Hollywood has earned more critical and commercial success across so many genres than Steven Spielberg. He directed “E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jaws,” the “Indiana Jones” franchise, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” three “Jurassic Park” movies, “Amistad,” “Schindler’s List,” “The Color Purple,” “Lincoln” and “Saving Private Ryan,” among other films.
Find Out: Top 10 Steven Spielberg Movies
Adjusted for inflation, Spielberg’s movies have earned nearly $9.1 billion at the domestic box office. He won four Oscars, including an Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, and was nominated for more than a dozen more. The director has five projects coming up, including a fifth installment of the “Indiana Jones” franchise.
George Lucas Net Worth: $5.1 Billion
George Lucas directed “American Graffiti,” a commercially successful and culturally iconic film that earned more than a half billion dollars at the domestic box office when adjusted for inflation. However, nothing can compete with the success of his “Star Wars” franchise.
Released in 1977, the original “Star Wars” alone made more than $1.53 billion and earned Lucas two Academy Awards nominations. It also spawned an entire galaxy of games, merchandise, toys and spinoffs.
Keep Reading: Top 10 Most Valuable Star Wars Merchandise
Net worth information was taken from CelebrityNetWorth.com. Box office figures were taken from BoxOfficeMojo.com unless otherwise indicated.