Death Of The Movie Star – R.I.P. (1920-2009)

Take a look at the top five grossing films of the year.

1.    AVATAR
5.    UP

Did you happen to notice there isn’t a ‘Marquee’ name amongst them? Sure people are familiar with the name Daniel Radcliff, and Robert Pattison. Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner are famous, but none are ‘Movie Stars’. The appeal of most of 2009’s biggest hits were the films themselves. Whether it was the CGI spectacle of ‘Transformers 2’ , the 3D worlds of ‘AVATAR’, the love triangle in ‘New Moon’, or the ridiculous comedic situations in ‘The Hangover’. Audiences went to films in record numbers during 2009 spending over $10 billion in domestic ticket sales, aided by the highest grossing film of all time (in unadjusted numbers) for ‘AVATAR’.

To be fair many top stars had either no films slated for release or films that were pushed back to 2010. Top draws such as Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and Leonardo Dicaprio were absent from screens last year. Brad Pitt had a nice hit with ‘INGLORIOUS BASTERDS’, but that has to do more with Tarantino’s fan base than Pitt’s star power. Johnny Depp and Vince Vaughn had solid hits in ‘PUBLIC ENEMIES’ and ‘COUPLES RETREAT’, respectively. But Tom Hanks stumbled with ‘ANGLES & DEMONS’, which grossed half of its predecessor’s 2006 ‘DA’ VINCI CODE’. Bruce Willis crashed with the expensive flop ‘SURROGATES’ and Adam Sandler’s ‘FUNNY PEOPLE’ barely cracked the $50 million mark.

Maybe audiences are growing tired of aging actors. Young up and comers navigated a number of films to box office riches. Channing Tatum helped ‘G.I. JOE’ open to $54 million and a worldwide gross of $300 million. Shia LaBeouf’s sizeable fan base and Megan Fox’s sex appeal propelled ‘Transformers 2’ to over $400 million domestically and into the top ten grossing films of all time. The biggest opening weekend of 2009 goes to ‘New Moon’. A media frenzy detailing Pattison and Stewart’s relationship and Lautner’s abs sold many magazines which in turn generated an amazing amount of interest in the modestly budgeted film. It’s easy to forget because of ‘AVATAR’s phenomenal box office run, that ‘New Moon’ still holds the record for largest single day in the history of box office tracking at $73 million. That’s nearly what ‘AVATAR’ made in its entire opening weekend! It’s no wonder Paramount has signed Lautner to a multi-picture deal. Reportedly to star alongside Tom Cruise in a quasi sequel to ‘TOP GUN’ currently titled ‘Northern Lights’. Further down the ladder is Zac Effron who delivered solid business for ’17 AGAIN’ doing over $60 million domestically. Which is especially impressive considering that film wasn’t an event picture or sequel released during the summer or holiday season. Rather a ‘BIG’-type knock off released in the typically barren spring season. I saw girls taking pictures next to the poster on separate occasions last March; this kid is going to be around for awhile.

Several actresses scored major hits in 2009. Among them was Katherine Heigl who expanded on her ’27 Dresses’ success by scoring with ‘The Ugly Truth’, which grossed nearly $90 million domestically. Meryl Streep also continued her hot streak, with two films ‘Julia & Julia’ and ‘It’s Complicated’ grossing over $110 million domestically apiece. But no other star burned brighter in 2009 than Sandra Bullock. After a few years absence, she returned to the screen and audiences welcomed her back in droves. First pushing last summer’s ‘The Proposal’ to over $160 million domestically, ranking it as the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time. Then there was ‘The Blindside’ which astonished analysts by grossing close to $250 million in the U.S. alone, ranking it as the bestselling sports film of all time.

Will the stars shine at the box office again? With new releases from Tom Cruise, Leonardo Dicaprio, Russell Crowe, Adam Sandler, and Robert Downey Jr., it will be interesting to see how well they rebound in 2010. The numbers never lie.

30 thoughts on “Death Of The Movie Star – R.I.P. (1920-2009)

  • February 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I agree, the days of the movie star are numbered. There are few roles for “leading men” and few young actors to fill them. Shia Laboeuf is cute, not handsome. Chris Pine isn’t even cute. Zac Efron hasn’t been in any notable movies. Channing Tatum is not a good enough actor. Only Robert Pattinson and Lautner have a chance of being “movie stars.” The women have a better chance. The older women are still finding good roles surprisingly. As for the younger ones, they are having trouble. What decent movie has Megan Fox been in? Katharine Heigl has been in stupid or male-centered movies. The only young actresses who are real movie stars are Scarlett Johansen and Anne Hathaway.

  • February 4, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Am I the only one who DOESN’T think this is such a bad thing?

    People should see a movie because it’s good — not just because a particular person stars in it.

    Having said that, I didn’t see any of these movies.

  • February 4, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    it really shouldn’t matter WHO is in the movie, but what should matter is the story itself. The main problem with modern day filmmaking is that it has become more of a business than an artform. This causes a rift between Hollywood and the rest of the (sane) world. You have these hotshot studios that wont allow creative expression, holding great filmmakers down. Then you have the filmmakers who have the studios finger up their butts, and you also have once-amazing filmmakers either turning into the studio fingers, or the ones getting fingered. The film industry as a whole can be explained by one thing…a middle finger pointed right at the audience.

  • February 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Kind of reminds me of the time when for example these films ruled the box office records and none of them had a star in them (although they created stars):
    Star Wars
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    The Terminator

  • February 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    “Death of the Movie Star”- is that such a bad thing? Watching a movie starring a familiar face, someone you’ve seen hundreds of times before, just makes it harder to fall into the illusion of the movie. You don’t really believe the character because it’s hard to get past the fact that Danny Ocean is fictional, and is played by George Clooney.

    When a movie features someone I don’t know, my mind doesn’t automatically shuffle through the other places I’ve seen him. I don’t think to myself “oh! it’s that…that…that guy! What was he in again?” and I get busy trying to remember where I’ve seen the actor before, instead of focusing on the movie.

    Film is a business. Production companies are interested in making the most money that they can, which is why “movie stars” came to be in the first place. If an actor was bankable, then they were thrown into as many movies as possible because the producers knew that people would pay just to see them. Thus, film became a personality cult- women idolized Paul Newman. Men fantasize about Charlize Theron. Teenagers squeal over Taylor Lautner.

    This hurts to quality of the movie. If the producers know that a movie starring Shia LaBoeuf is a guaranteed blockbuster, why should they be concerned with making sure the movie is any good? It doesn’t matter how good the lead actor/actress is, if the whole team doesn’t have their hearts into the project, it’s going to suck.

    I’d rather see a good film than a film starring a famous person.

  • February 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Oh gosh, im so glad that im not the only person that feels like the acting has gone down the toilet!! Im 18 n i like to consider myself a movie buff, but i just cant stand watching new movies, or the actors. The quality of acting has gone down(i believe) because the quality of the screen-plays has gone down. Try watching some of the greats, and then watch some of the new releases, there is a major difference, but then again peoples morals are different also, which i think is a reflection, its all just sad . . .

  • February 4, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Bottom line is that no studio can count on a single name over the title to guarantee butts in the seats. And let’s not even talk about week two. With the blog-a-sphere, everyone is a published critic.

  • February 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I wonder if the recent writer’s strike also had anything to do with the lack of nominated A-listers this year?

  • February 4, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Hey, um, Jason, uh, you’re just getting old, dude.

  • February 4, 2010 at 10:01 am

    There are no movie “stars” anymore – just actors who got lucky.


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