In the 1990s and well into the 2000s, Hollywood boasted a throng of bankable Black stars, with Smith (Independence Day: $817.4 million worldwide gross), Washington (American Gangster: $266.5 million) and Murphy (The Nutty Professor: $274 million) able to get movies greenlighted and open them worldwide. Smith and Washington still can command $20 million per picture in the right role, and they have broken through with overseas audiences, who haven't always been receptive to Black stars.

But with that trio and other successful Black actors — including Don Cheadle, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman and Forest Whitaker — all past 40, the question is which actors will make up the next wave of A-list Black stars.