Monday, May 5, 2008

Movie Stars vs. Franchises

The Hollywood Reporter has an article on how A-List celebrities are seeing their clout drop, as star-driven movies aren't grossing what they used, that more success is coming from the franchise-driven picture. This is true, but the stats they use to make their point of erroneous.

They compare 1987, 1997 and 2007. In 1987, they call Lethal Weapon star-driven when Mel Gibson hadn't proven yet to bankable outside of a Mad max movie, and then they call RoboCop franchise driven when it was the first one and no one knew it was going to spawn sequels.

In 1997, they call Titanic star-driven, when Leonardo DiCaprio had not yet proven to open a picture.

In 2007, they call Wild Hogs a "buzz comedy." Why was this not star-driven, seeing as how it was one of the worst reviewed movies of 2007?

It is true there are very few bankable stars in Hollywood left. I'd say Will Smith is #1, and there are no guarantees after that. There is a difference between a movie star and a celebrity. For all the buzz that George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, etc. generate, their movies' grosses don't reflect it. Clooney needed Pitt, Matt Damon and a few other big names to make the Ocean's 11 franchise a big-grosser, but outside of that, when looking at Leatherheads, Michael Clayton, Intolerable Cruelty, Syriana, he doesn't hit the home runs, solid as the reviews may be. Brad Pitt (The Assassination of Jesse James) and Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart) couldn't make their art-house pics break out. Will Smith, however, made a monster hit out of The Pursuit of Happyness.

Even the unstoppable Toms, Cruise and Hanks, have stumbled recently with Lions for Lambs and Charlie Wilson's War. CWW did okay but it wasn't in the stratosphere of The Da Vinci Code, Cast Away, etc. Maybe they can be blamed on audiences shunning anything having to do with war.

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