Hollywood tests the limit of marquee names that a film can have

On Friday, Netflix launched streaming Do not look up, A big-budget cartoon starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Tyler Perry, Ariana Grande, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Timothy Chalamet.

It certainly seemed like a must-see event, with mixed reviews being offered. The most astronomical cast – the insults of celebrity rich – do not come every day.

Except it’s being done now.

Pretending to be a Star Spider-Man? How strange. Released in theaters on December 17, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Spidey Spandex has three A-lists: Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield and Toby Maguire. No Way Home, a runaway hit at the global box office, grossed $ 1.05 billion for Sony Pictures Entertainment as of Sunday, which also starred Zendia, Jamie Foxx, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tommy, Willem Dafoe and Jon Favreau. According to Posttrack surveys, nearly 43% of early-weekend viewers in the United States attributed the cast to their purchase of tickets. Twenty percent specifically cited the flag.

Spider-Man No Way Home Spider-Man: Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Holland at No Way Home. (Photo: by Sony Pictures AP)

Guillermo del Toro’s latest art film, Nightmare Alley, starring Bradley Cooper, Blanchett, Tony Collette, Dafo, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Mary Steinbergen and David Strathyrn. (They have 22 Oscar nominations for their performances and three of them wins.) Other recent examples of star crews include The French Dispatch, Red Notice, House of Gucci, The Harder the Fall and Superhero Story Eternals, marketed by Disney under the above 11 names. This title. (Angelina Jolie! Kumail Nanjiani! Salma Hayek!)

In the coming months, Universal will release The 355, a spy thriller anchored by five female stars, including Lupita Nyongo, Penelope Cruz and Jessica Chastein. Disney is releasing a remake of Starry Death on the Nile and preparing Donton Abbey: A New Era to reassemble the Focus Features franchise’s ensemble cast. Netflix is ​​working on The Adam Project, a sci-fi adventure (Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner, Mark Rufello, Joe Saldana, Catherine Keiner) and the thriller The Gray Man starring Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Ryan Gosling, Billy Bob. Thornton and Bridgeton Fame reggae-Jean Page.

“Someday, someone will decide to make a movie with two Batmans – oh, wait, it’s going to happen,” said Terry Press, one of Hollywood’s top sellers. She mentioned Lightning, A superhero film scheduled for the end of next year from Warner Bros.; Ben Affleck’s Batman appears alongside Michael Keaton’s Batman.

Star Mass is nothing new in every movie. The Grand Hotel (1932), Thousand’s Cheer (1943), It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World “(1963), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Towering Inferno (1974) and Total Oceans 11 are reminiscent of the franchise, Not to mention the recent “Avengers” movies.

Suddenly, though, they were everywhere.

Why?

“The stars are important – always have, always will be – and Hollywood has turned to them, leaning more strongly on them when they’re panicked about a wandering audience,” said Jeanine Basinger, a Hollywood scholar and author of Hollywood histories such as The Star Machine. It examines the old studio system. “Stars insurance – for studio executives who want to continue their jobs, for sure, but also for viewers: ‘Is this movie worth my time and money?’ ”

It would be nice to describe the Hollywood customer base as “wandering”. AWOL might be more appropriate.

The pandemic accelerated the alarming decline at the box office for bread and butter dramas, musicals and comedies – all but the Leviathan fantasy franchises and the occasional horror movie. Spider-Man: No Way Home grossed $ 260 million in its opening weekend in the United States and Canada. According to ComScore, total ticket sales for the two countries are $ 283 million. That means No Way occupies 92% of the home market. Released the same weekend, Nightmare Alley played in virtually empty auditoriums. It took $ 2.7 million.

According to Sony, the vast majority of early-weekend ticket buyers for No Way Home are under the age of 34.

Between Friday and Sunday, Spider-Men remained the largest domestic draw, grossing nearly $ 81.5 million. Animated Singh 2 (Universal-Illumination) was second with $ 23.8 million in ticket sales. Warner Bros. failed to generate much interest in The Matrix Resurrections, finishing third with a weak $ 12 million; It is also available on the HBO Max.

The Kingsman (Disney), the third film in Matthew Vaughan’s action-comedy series, grossed $ 6.4 million, which a box office analyst described as a “fall” franchise. (A faith-based sports drama from American Underdog, Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, grossed $ 6.2 million on Saturdays and Sundays alone.)

Streaming services have occupied a large audience, especially the elderly. The competition between the services has increased tremendously as Netflix, Hulu, Disney +, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount +, Apple TV +, HBO Max, Peacock, Hallmark Movies Now, BritBox and dozens more are battling for subscriber growth. Stars help: Netflix writes mega-checks for A-list actors ($ 30 million for DiCaprio for Don’t Look Up) and collective franchises ($ 465 million for two Knives Out sequels).

Creative Artists Super Agent Bryan Lord, who orchestrated the Knives Out Deal, said, “The stars are more important than ever.” “When the stars combine their fastball material, it reduces all noise.”

There are other explanations for barrage. In a severely disrupted market, the stars are seeking security in numbers; No one can be held responsible for failing to provide an audience like Nightmare Alley. Movie marketing has also changed, with carpet-bombing becoming more and more about cutting down on prime-time TV with ads and tapping on social media fan bases. Grande has 284 million Instagram followers. (Pity DiCaprio and Holland, only 50 million each.)

Basinger, who founded Wesleyan University’s Department of Film Studies, said personal star power had waned. Studios are based on intellectual property – pre-existing franchises and characters. As a result, there is no need to make new stars and keep the old ones hot; Iron Man, Dominic Torreto, Wonder Woman, Baby Yoda are the stars now.

“In the old days, movie stars were brands,” she says. “It simply came to our notice then. Not a slice of the audience. Everyone. But it all went awry. Now, it’s about adding nests.

In other words, Hollywood needs a cast with almost irrelevant celebrities. Floods in the zone.

And don’t forget Hollywood’s favorite game: Follow the Leader. Avengers: Endgame, Robert Downey Jr., Dan Cheddal, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johnson, Chadwick Boseman, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen and a dozen other Boldface names. All time in 2019. At a very different level, the all-star remake of Murder on Orient Express in 2017 was also a box office winner.

“It’s trendy right now,” said Tim Palen, producer and former studio marketing chief, who called the casting an “all skate” approach. “Not new but definitely a feature of the battle for passionate attention.”

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