Thursday, 10 January 2013

Things To Drop In 2013 #3: The Star System

Let's start this post with a little thought experiment.

I want you to close your eyes, and try to remember the last time you went to a movie solely because of the actors in the leading roles.

Can you remember doing that recently?
Not only is he not the "last" he's not even a star.


Open your eyes now.


Thank you.

Anyway, do you remember the last time you went to a movie solely because of the leading actors? Now remember, if you chose to see the movie because of the story, the director, or any other factors, you can't count it. Your decision had to be based solely on a desire to see the leading actors.

I'll bet dollars to donuts that you'd be hard pressed to remember one movie you decided to see based solely on the star.

However, Hollywood doesn't think that way. Too many people in positions of power in show-biz still believe that "stars" can deliver the goods, and pay them accordingly.  The problem is that too many of today's so-called "A-List" lead actors aren't really stars in the classical meaning of the word, they're just famous.

Back in the Golden Age of Hollywood they did have "stars." They attracted audiences because they not only made some sort emotionally connection with the audience, but also were associated with a certain type or quality of movie the audience liked seeing them in.

But those days are long gone.

Nowadays a "star" is more of a hindrance than a help. Their fees, often far more than their real market value, drive up the budget, and far too many have public images that either annoy or offend the general audience.

So why do the studios refuse to give it up?

Well, it simplifies things. Why do hours of research to determine who really appeals to audiences when you can just listen to their agents and publicists tell you how many magazines they can sell when they appear on the cover.

And that's the paradox.

You see, a celebrity like, let's say Jennifer Aniston, may sell out the magazine rack when she gives 25 "exclusive" interviews to complain about how the media won't leave her alone, but a look at her box office record will reveal that unless she has half a dozen co-stars and/or a cute dog to carry the sales pitch she couldn't sell tickets to the last fallout shelter during a nuclear war.

You see women, who buy most of those magazines, like to read about her whine about her personal life, but they're not willing to pay to see her in a theatre.

It's the same with George Clooney, who can't take a movie over $100 million at the box office without a minimum of 10 major co-stars, yet Hollywood itself touts him as the biggest star on the planet, because he's got an image that can attract attention from within the media.

That media attention creates "name recognition" which the studios somehow equate with stardom. This illusion of stardom, coupled with Hollywood's self-fulfilling idiocy, means that many "A-Listers" get paid way beyond what they're worth in real-world bums in seats.

Now if they didn't have the self-fulfilling idiocy, they could then offer a reasonable up-front fee, that comes with nice cash bonuses if the movie beats certain targets at the box-office, and in home video sales/rentals.

But that would be a simple, rational, and logical way to run a business, which is not the Hollywood way.

1 comment:

  1. there are more "stars" that will make me NOT want to see a film than go see one. Id list them here buy it would be TOO long. Only place I see where the old system still works is the Tween Cable channels. Disney made money hand over fist with Hannah Montana, kids were going crazy too see her based on name alone. It is teen fame that does not last long. Even now Miley is paranoid that she will be forgotten.