June 18, 2012

Whatever happened to movie stars?

More evidence of extinction.

40 comments:

The Farmer said...

Both movies look crappy. That's all. It doesn't point to anything else.

David said...

It's hard to be a star in a really crappy movie. In their defense, they need a lot of cash to fund their life styles.

EMD said...

The internet killed them.

TWM said...

Agreed, both movies looked crappy, but it's true that "star power" has been fading for a while now. Much of it due to the fact that many stars are taking political stances that are in direct contrast to over 50% of their audience. And what's worse is they do it in a belittling and insulting way.

A second reason is that pretty much every movie these days also insults half their audience by taking cracks at conservatives, and most people don't want to see a movie these days with a big star or not.

And finally, most of the movies just aren't that good anymore. At least not good enough to waste the time and money to hit a theater when the competition (HBO, Netflix, DVDs) are right there for the taking.

EMD said...

The funny thing is, I took the kids to Madagascar 3 and wasn't expecting much.

It was, however, pretty enjoyable.

Story still matters.

t-man said...

Oh, the stars *are* big, it's the pictures that have gotten small.

Having lived a life full of modern, American media, I am simply bored by 99% of what Hollywood puts out (in theatres and on television). The stories are completely predictable. Also, adults in Hollywood movies for the past twenty years have been in a state of perpertual adolescence, which I find unattractive.

The things I can still manage to watch are TV series, like "Game of Thrones," (or the "Sopranos") in which unexpected things still happen.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Exactly what TWM said.

Plus Stars???? Adam Sandler? A star? Tom Cruise. So far past his sell by date that he is curdled. And he wasn't that good to begin with.

MadisonMan said...

Only 6 posts 'til the obvious quote appeared. That seems right.

I've not understood why Rock of Ages was made. Who is the audience for that thing meant to be? It doesn't seem like there is one, and opening weekend kinda showed that. Sandler has been on a downward trajectory for a long time. When was his last good movie?

rhhardin said...

There weren't movie stars even when there were movie stars, except for media hype.

t-man said...

I am nothing if not obvious (added irony, given my complaint about predictability).

"And now, for something completely different...

edutcher said...

Try making movies with a real story, not ones based on biological functions, computer games, comic books (OK "300" wasn't bad), or old TV shows.

And maybe get some actors who can actually act.

ndspinelli said...

Madisonman, Your reading comprehension is poor. As stated in the piece, 2010 Grown Ups was Sandler's last big hit.

More and more folks are getting smart and choosing indy flicks w/ actual stories and superb acting/directing.

wyo sis said...

It's not extinction, it's evolution. Am I in the cliche trenches with t-man? Most of us have seen it all twice, and we're just not that entertained by it anymore.

MadisonMan said...

Your reading comprehension is poor

Actually, it's my link-clicking ability that is poor :)

prairie wind said...

YouTube killed the movie star. Kids are more likely to recognize the "Charlie bit my finger" boy or the "Corgi flop" dog than movie stars. Movie stars used to be entertaining because we didn't have all the enterainment alternatives. Now they are just background noise.

Rusty said...

I think , lately, Adam Sandler has been channeling his inner Pauly Shore.

Paddy O said...

Another big movie coming out this year is the sequel to The Expendables. The whole cast is one time movie blockbuster stars who found that their season had passed. So the whole hook with the first one and the sequel is to get all these guys in one movie. They can't open a movie on their own anymore, and even together it's a gamble.

Meaning, basically, that the "why pay Brad Pitt $20 million when you get Hemsworth for $5 million" has been a true theme as long as there has been movies.

All the great stars stumbled into their sunsets, to be followed by the new thing. Some stars last longer than others, but as long as there has been Hollywood, stars fade away.

It's nothing new, just the faces are.

dmoelling said...

I watched one of those TCM shorts featuring MGM's movies in production for 1955. I had never seen any of the featured flicks but some looked not half bad. But the MGM stars and starlets worked hard at promoting them. Although TV was not yet a real competitor, todays studios sell to TV, internet, etc. so it's a fair comparison to see one company (MGM) produce so much product. Labor costs (Stars) were evidently less.

cassandra lite said...

Stars largely function now as the final factors in what movies get made. If Tom Cruise wants to be in a film, it's given the green light.

Studios and distributors know that having a "star" in the film makes it more likely that the release will get (a) lots of free publicity and (b) more exhibitors willing to take the film.

Kev said...

(the other kev)

I know at least a half dozen people that had no idea Tom Cruise was in 'Rock of Ages', all they knew from the ads was that Alec Baldwin was wearing a shitty wig.

As for Adam Sandler, my guess is that his audience grew up.

holdfast said...

MM:

I quite liked Grown-Ups. Maybe I'm feeling my age, but I thought it was both funny and really positive. His best Work since Big Daddy.

whswhs said...

I think that worry is exaggerated. De Vany's Hollywood Economics, published nearly a decade ago, summed the situation up as "stars don't make pictures; pictures make stars." A single runaway success film can launch an actor's career as a major star, but a major star can't make a mediocre film take off—and every star has some embarrassments in their list of film appearances. And that pattern goes back a long way. Big stars who can't sell movies aren't a new development.

virgil xenophon said...

So far unmentioned is the fact that the production end of the movie industry is dominated by gays and single professional females who make movies (or see that they get made) which appeal only to a very narrow audience of people like themselves (Gay Green Lantern, anyone?) or simplistic action-hero movies targeting "tweens." Straight white males 18-35 have abandoned movies en mass long ago for first-person shooter gaming, etc., taking their dollars with them.

Seeing Red said...

They became small. They dress like hobos, they're hypocritical tax-dodgers and lost their mystique. I don't think the caliber of talent either writing or acting is there either anymore.


My family watches those Sandler movies and I don't get it, how does he pull in those female leads?

Grown Ups was a little different since it really was more of an ensemble piece and it was amusing, what I've seen of the others, not so much and my family I think started watching because they liked The Grown Ups.

Joe said...

Nothing. The phrase "movie star" as you are using it rarely existed. It required very managed publicity, i.e. the studio system. Even the few actors who succeeded outside the studio system depended on it.

That said, in this situation, the studios were simply playing the long con. Studio heads knew these two movies were crap, but gave themselves massive up-front pay and figured they could at least break even before word got out.

Tibore said...

I don't see what the point of the article is. It seems to say the obvious while ignoring the history of the obvious, namely that so-called "star power" can't save a bad movie. It's not the first time this has happened in entertainment, and it won't be the last.

And just because the identities of stars change doesn't necessarily mean they're heading towards extinction. Nowadays people don't give a damn about Hollywood stars, but sports stardom is definitely alive and kicking. And somehow, reality TV stars have managed to kick up their profile to be as noticed as any big movie star; how else does anyone explain the phenomenon of the Kardashians, who've done pretty much jack squat but appear in public, yet get highlighted as much as if not more than any actual working celebrity.

Celebrity waxes and wanes. I don't see that author writing anything that's not been seen in the past. You don't need Pitt because Hemsworth's available cheaper? Hasn't that been the story of Hollywood since the heydays of the 40's?

Scott said...

When Star Wars opened in the summer of 1977, there were NO big name stars on the top of the bill; and just a few in the supporting cast.

I think that was really the year that the "Hollywood Star" died. Star Wars proved that people would flock to a compelling spectacle with a great story, even if they never heard of the actors.

EDH said...

Celluloid Heroes

Everybody's a dreamer and everybody's a star
And everybody's in show biz, it doesn't matter who you are.

And those who are successful,
Be always on your guard,
Success walks hand in hand with failure
Along Hollywood Boulevard.

I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show,
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes,
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die.

You can see all the stars as you walk along Hollywood Boulevard,
Some that you recognise, some that you've hardly even heard of,
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.

Oh celluloid heroes never feel any pain
Oh celluloid heroes never really die.

I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show,
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes,
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die.

William said...

Tom Cruise briefly let the mask slip and revealed himself to be a jerk. But for all that he remains a star. I'll give him this: there's a better than even chance that any movie he appears in will be entertaining. I suppose it's a circular argument in that his stardom allows him to attract a good cast, huge budgets, and talented directors, but the fact remains that most of his movies are worth watching. Adam Sandler not so much.

tim maguire said...

It would be a wonderful thing if name recognition stopped trumping talent, but I won't get my hopes up just yet.

Dave D said...

Promethius was excellent. No real stars. Just great SciFi. More of that, please!

The previews, however, shoed an upcoming "Abraham Lincoln; Vampire Hunter" by Tim Burton. Hollywood has indeed run out of ideas.......

Christy said...

Is Hollywood not the perfect example of how industry can be Fooled by Randomness into thinking it was some actor's genius? Sometimes it is just a movie that resonates at a time and place.

t-man, I love The Song of Ice and Fire, but cannot bring myself to watch the GOT and go through all that heartbreak and angst again.


I was almost guilted into taking Nephews to the new Sandler movie because I drug them to Prometheus which we all agreed wasn't very good. Funny thing though. Prometheus is still going like gangbusters and garnered good reviews.

Methadras said...

Movie stars have eclipsed actual actors. They infest every imaginable form of media. There are more shows on tv about movie stars and their lives now than ever before. Regular working actors are getting drowned out if not completely. The biggest area where they are is in the animated voice acting area.

"EMD said...

The funny thing is, I took the kids to Madagascar 3 and wasn't expecting much.

It was, however, pretty enjoyable.

Story still matters."

Story still matters, but the movie stars doing the voice acting have killed the traditional voice actors overall. It's a shame. There is awesome talent out there.

Methadras said...

Dave D said...

Promethius was excellent. No real stars. Just great SciFi. More of that, please!

The previews, however, shoed an upcoming "Abraham Lincoln; Vampire Hunter" by Tim Burton. Hollywood has indeed run out of ideas.......


I thought Prometheus was excellent. It should have been longer. I didn't want it to end because there was so much there in terms of story and background that could have been expounded upon. However, I see a sequel to it clearly and I hope it gets made.

Synova said...

My husband and I are going to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter on its opening weekend. We're rather stoked about it.

We'll be taking the whole family to Brave, even though our youngest is 15.

The two of us went to Prometheus. I actually got he giggles when the eel monster attacked the first scientist. It was a good enough movie if you take it as a sci-fi monster fest. OTOH, I'm of a mind with the AoS Prometheus bash-fest going on. (And apparently Ridley Scott himself said that, yes, Jesus was an alien engineer and we killed him, and that's why the activity at the facility dates to 2000 years ago... and apparently why the title of the movie is a call-back to Greek Mythology, and the "virgin" got pregnant and... don't get me started, dear dawg.)

As for STARS....

"The scary truth is (well, scary if you’re a movie star) that studios don’t really need stars any more. In fact, they can be a hindrance. Why pay Brad Pitt $20 million when Chris Hemsworth will do the film for $5 million?"

If I ever see Snow White (buy the disk) it will be because it's got Chris Hemsworth in it. Brad Pitt, OTOH, is one of those, "I suppose I'll see it anyway", decision making processes. The MOVIE has to carry HIM.

There are stars, they just shine in places that aren't predictable. Perhaps they're shooting stars.

Or something.

sleepless nights said...

Social media has definitely made a difference to me. It's now a continuum. I just see "stars" as people with "a lot of followers." There are those with under 10, 10-100, 100+ followers, 1000, 10000, 100000, and then a 1000000+ at which point you're a "star". It's no longer qualitatively different, just a matter of degree.

Anyone involved now has that same pressure to "keep the audience interested" or "battles with integrity" that will lose you followers that famous people have long had.

Scott M said...

Skynyrd, Adkins, Kid Rock line up for RNC convention

Ugh. As an avid lover of many genres of music (rock in particular), having been in broadcasting for years and met quite a few of them, I couldn't be more "meh" about Skynyrd and Adkins. Nothing says bumpkin like Skynrd playing loudly.

Kid Rock is just sad and always has been.

rhhardin said...

Maybe you can get a star named after you.

Jose_K said...

tv

PatCA said...

William Holden versus Giovanni Ribisi.

Yup, Hwood is so over.