Thursday, November 05, 2015
The theory is that audiences go to the movies to see movie stars. And even Nancy Meyer films will open big if they have mega star power.
But that’s changing.
Franchises now open movies. Hence all the sequels. No one went to see FURIOUS SEVEN because Vin Diesel was in it. Or even Jordana Brewster. When Daniel Craig is James Bond his movies open huge. When he’s some schmuck dealing with emotional problems audiences shrug.
Everyone is all geeked up to see the new STAR WARS movie and they would be no less excited if I were starring in it. At this moment in time, TOY STORY’S Woody is a bigger draw than Tom Hanks.
Once upon a time movie stars were aloof. They were larger-than-life. You only read about them in gossip rags. They only came out and mingled with mortals during red carpet events. The only way to really feast on them was to go to your local Cineplex when their dazzling new movie opened. Even it was SAHARA.
Today Oscar winners are doing car commercials, reality shows, and ELLEN. PEOPLE Magazine shows them paying at Jiffy Lube. The better dramatic roles are in television, and stars who once looked down their surgically-repaired noses at TV are clamoring to be in something streamed by Hulu. There is no such thing as the “big screen” anymore. A handful of movies are in IMAX, and the rest are just fine for viewing on your iPad. You don’t go to IMAX movies to see “stars.” It’s not like you need eighty-foot screens to fully appreciate Anne Hathaway.
I would like to think (in the fantasy world I live in) that movie audiences are more discerning today. (I'll pause while you laugh.) There is so much good entertainment on television and movie prices are so high that folks are less apt to just throw down their money because their favorite star is in it.
But that said, a movie star can greatly elevate a decent movie into a much better one. Just imagine THE MARTIAN starring Keanu Reeves. There are certain actors who just command your attention. There’s something about them that is special. So you put them in a project with an interesting story and give them good writers, directors, and top notch crews and you have the recipe for POSSIBLE magic. I say “possible” because you still never know.
Another reason studios are always so willing to pin their hopes on stars is because they can use those stars to cover their own ass. “Hey, I got you Sandra Bullock. Who knew people didn’t want to see her as… what was she in again?”
So lots of movies are coming out this holiday season. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler have a comedy. So does Seth Rogen. Bryan Cranston is in a drama that’s getting good buzz. But the real talk is all the franchises. STAR WARS, James Bond, a new Tarentino, HUNGER GAMES, Alvin & the Chipmunks, and PEANUTS. If there’s any one star who’s big enough to still open a movie today I’m going to say it’s Charlie Brown.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM