The studios stocked this summer's release schedule with so-called star vehicles, including "Land of the Lost" with Will Ferrell, "Year One" featuring Jack Black, the comedy "Imagine That" with Eddie Murphy, and Denzel Washington and John Travolta in a remake of "The Taking of Pelham 123." But rather than igniting ticket sales, the star-studded movies have dramatically underperformed.
The brightest stars of the lucrative popcorn season--which typically accounts for about 40% of annual ticket sales--instead have turned out to be mostly movies with no-name actors--or no actors at all on screen.
So far, the summer's most profitable film has been Warner Bros.' surprise hit "The Hangover," a $35-million-budget R-rated comedy about a bachelor party in Las Vegas that boasts not a single household-name actor but has reached $183 million in U.S. ticket sales since its June 5 opening and is expected to exceed $200 million. Other summer hits like J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" and Michael Bay's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" showcase eye-popping visual effects along with up-and-coming talent.
And, the highest-grossing summer movie so far? Walt Disney's Co.'s "Up," the Pixar-animated movie starring the voice of . . . Ed Asner.
If any directors, producers, or financiers think otherwise, they're wrong. The evidence proves it.
The only problem with this analysis is that the phenomenon is nothing new. It's been going on for years, if not decades.
For more on the subject, see Fallacy of the Big-Name Actor.