In the past it was stars who sold movies. In fact, the studio system used to tie down actors in deals that would require them to appear in a certain number of studio films before they could sign with another studio. Sure there were exceptions, but there were reasons why they did that. For one it was actors that sold movies. This method worked for years as audiences would crowd in for the latest Cary Grant movie or someone of the like. But times have changed, and while there are certainly still stars and a-listers, stars are no longer causing people to flock to theatres in droves.
Star MachinePrior to recent changes in the movie landscape, stars were created. People with talent were elevated to exponential heights. Prior to the age of the internet, these stars were able to craft an image. Stars would become these people that were simultaneously seen as the most interesting of people while also portraying interesting characters. As a result of the star phenomenon it was entirely possible for a film to hinge on a star’s status. Thus it was the actors that truly made a role work. The idea of an unknown who possessed the right charisma and talent to portray a character getting the big role was blasphemous. It was about putting the star first and then the character and franchise second.
The Fall of the Star Machine
The Star Machine is currently collapsing. It has been going on for a while now, but recently it has been rearing it’s head even more as films that should have been easy star machine movies 10 years are struggling in the box office now. People aren’t going out to see an actor’s latest work now just because they like the actor. People are putting more thought into which films they are going to see. In many ways this is because of the cost of going to the movies nowadays. Especially when it can easily cost a family of 4 close to a hundred just to go see a movie, it is hard to justify going out, just because you liked a specific actor’s previous work. In the grand scheme of things, the actor is only a part of the experience. If an actor is given a bad script or the direction goes wrong, there is little they can do to turn the ship around. If the movie gets a bad review because of a confluence of elements just not working, the casual audience may feel burned. I’m fairly certain that most people have felt that way at some point.Let’s look at a couple of examples. When I was young I was in love with Orlando Bloom and thus any project he was in I was down for. I mean I loved him as Legolas in Lord of the Rings. He was damn fun in as Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean. Heck, he was even alright as the spineless coward Paris in Troy. Kingdom of Heaven also sounded not so bad either. Then for shits and giggles I saw Elizabethtown. My Orlando Bloom Star Machine crashed into a wall at 60mph. I survived, as did my appreciation for Orlando Bloom, but I started to rethink just blindly seeing a movie just because there was an actor I liked in it.
Recently Tom Cruise has been running in to the same bit of trouble with his Star Machine dying. Back in the 80s and early 90s, just saying that Tom Cruise was in a movie was enough for people to throw their money at the movie. Heck, my dad is still unabashedly a Tom Cruise fan and associates his films with ones that he will enjoy. But as Star Machines in general have been dying down and being a Star Machine actor doesn’t mean you will have a box office hit, you are seeing a change in the films. Though, I should note that people should go see Edge of Tomorrow because it is a damn good fun film.
Why are Star Machines going away
I mentioned previously that one of the reasons Star Machines are failing is because of ticket price, but another major reason is that people are becoming more invested in the story being told rather than who iss conveying it. Thus people are favoring either original stories that have very good quality story telling and character development, or reaching out to franchises that center themselves around larger than life concepts. And while stars that are in these mega franchises like The Hunger Games and Marvel Cinematic Universe are becoming synonymous with their characters they aren’t the driving force of the film. You know this because in many cases the people who become stars because of their characters, many times aren’t as well known until after their big hit.
Why do you think star machines are failing?