Can Brad Pitt Save A-List Stars' Paychecks?
Posted 08.21.09 by reelz
It's been a cruel summer — and spring — at the box office for Hollywood's biggest stars. The less-than-stellar success for A-Listers has many in Hollywood worried, according to The New York Times.
A-list movie stars have long been measured by their ability to fill theaters on opening weekend. But never have so many failed to deliver, resulting in some rare soul-searching by motion picture studios about why the old formula isn’t working — and a great deal of anxiety among stars (and agents) about the potential vaporization of their $20 million paychecks.
The under-delivering stars cited include Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, Adam Sandler, and Will Ferrell. At best their films had weak returns. Others close in on the bomb category. Even Johnny Depp's turn in Public Enemies didn't bring the hoped for audience.
The trend is especially clear when you look at the movies that have topped the box office this summer and their leading stars — Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Shia LaBoeuf), Up (Ed Asner), and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Daniel Radcliffe). Will Brad Pitt "stop the bleeding" with this weekend's Inglourious Basterds?
Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company built the marketing campaign for the film almost entirely around Mr. Pitt.
And the actor may pull it off — kind of. Mr. Weinstein contends that Mr. Pitt’s drawing power is not remotely in question. "Brad Pitt is a super-superstar at the apex of his popularity, and he's a large part of why people want to see this movie," he said.
However, box-office predictions for Inglourious Basterds this weekend range from $25 to $30 million — solid for a Tarantino movie but only midling for Pitt.
What or who is to blame? The instant peer feedback available from social networking, says Peter Guber, the former chairman of Sony Pictures.
You look around the theater and can see the glow, not on people’s faces from watching the movie, but on their chins — from the BlackBerrys and iPhones. They are immediately telling their friends whether it's worth their time. And the answer to that, more often than not, seems to be no.
To which we say, keep the reviews coming, movie lovers!