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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Hot Button – No, The Stars Are Getting Smaller

I feel a burning urge to respond to Anne Thompson

29 Responses to “Hot Button – No, The Stars Are Getting Smaller”

  1. mutinyco says:

    Even EWS, which you noted as being a disappointment, still pulled $160M worldwide…

  2. Dr Wally says:

    I lost that article completely when Anne started on Angelina Jolie. I mean seriously, that woman could not open a bottle of Coke. Great riposte from Dave. I often think movie ‘stardom’ in the eyes of the media is less about getting people into theaters, and more about coverage in the glossies. Why is Scarlett Johannsson considered a bigger ‘movie star’ than Rachel Mcadams? Why is Jude Law considered a ‘movie star’ but, say, Jason Statham, is not? It’s not about box-office these days, it’s about column inches.

  3. martin says:

    I think there’s a difference between a celebrity and a movie star. Actors like Jude Law and Angelina Jolie may not get audiences into theaters for their acting/movie-stardom, but they do get a lot of attention in the tabloids for their celebrity. An example is someone like Will Smith or Tom Hanks, who large #’s of moviegoers genuinely want to see act in a movie, whereas you have a Jude Law or an Angelina who people genuinely want to read about in the gossip pages. This is not a matter of talent or lack of talent, but just how they have positioned themselves to the public, and it’s hard to break out of that box once you’ve become successful in it.

  4. martin says:

    Also, it should be mentioned that the tabloid-appeal will cross over to movie box office, when the movie itself plays off of that such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Even something like Wanted seems to play very trashy and will appeal to some extent to that gossip-page audience.

  5. Minor ‘correction’…
    Harrison Ford had back to back $100 million hits at least one other time, with The Fugitive ($183 million) in 1993, followed by Clear & Present Danger ($120 million) in 1994.
    The closest he had to a ‘run’ was from 1992-2000. He had Patriot Games ($84 million), The Fugitive ($183 million), Clear & Present Danger ($120 million), Sabrina ($55 million – not the flop it’s considered), The Devil’s Own (yes, an over-budgeted flop at $42 million), Air Force One ($171 million), Six Days Seven Nights ($75 million – again not a flop in the least), Random Hearts (yes, a flop at $31 million, but also not a movie that even Will Smith could turn into a hit, in my opinion), then finishing off with the popular What Lies Beneath ($156 million).
    From there on in, alas, it was $30-50 million grossers until Indy 4. Although I still maintain that Hollywood Homicide is one of the funniest films he’s done and he’s great in it.
    The problem with Harrison Ford is that all of his alleged fans carp that he never tries anything different, yet, they scream in horror when he does (Random Hearts, Devils Own, K19, Hollywood Homicide, etc), thus forcing him to retreat to his safety zone (Firewall, Indy 4).

  6. Hopscotch says:

    Mendelson,
    They scream in horror when Ford does something different because he’s usually god-awful in those films. Devils Own and Random Hearts I couldnt’ finish.
    I have heard he’s quite wonderful in the Mosquito Coast.

  7. repeatfather says:

    The thing about Mosquito Coast is that, yes, Harrison Ford’s performance is brilliant, but the character is absolutely excruciating. I couldn’t stand him or the movie.

  8. Roman says:

    “As for Downey

  9. LexG says:

    Today’s LA Times actually made a point of referring to GET SMART as Anne Hathaway’s “highest weekend opening.”
    Yes, she’s the female lead and a name actress (and awesome of course)… but does anyone really consider GET SMART “an Anne Hathaway movie”?
    It’s such a gray area as to what constitutes a true show of “star power” versus a movie that just incidentally happens to feature a certain actor. Demi Moore used to somehow get “A Few Good Men” included in her laundry list of box-office achievements… and even this otherwise excellent article mentions both “Hook” and “Flatliners” in discussing Julia Roberts.

  10. I appreciated Random Hearts more than I liked or enjoyed it. It’s a dark, difficult, messy movie and I forgive it its flaws because I thought it was an interesting take on the subject matter (I’ll probably never watch it again, but it was worth watching once).
    As for The Devil’s Own, it’s not a masterpiece, but it gets better as it goes along and the last act has some truly meaty material. And, once again, an actor (Brad Pitt) got roasted for doing an actually authentic Irish accent instead of the usual lucky charms bit that most US audiences are used to. The same thing happened to Tom Cruise in Far & Away. Not great movies, but nothing wrong with the accent work.
    K19 and Firewall were lousy, and he was lousy in them. But again, for a different Harrison Ford, try the above mentioned Mosquito Coast or Hollywood Homicide. In a summer of great vehicle chases – Matrix Reloaded, Terminator 3, Bad Boys 2 – the big chase in Hollywood Homicide was my favorite, as it used real stunts and was funny to boot.
    If anyone would have the decency to cast Ford in an out and out comedy, tapping into the weird, self-depreciating humor on display when he guests on Conan O’Brian, they’d have a huge hit on their hands.

  11. THX5334 says:

    Poland, why don’t you just come out and say what no one wants to admit:
    The star system has crashed and burned and is even more OVER than the academy awards…

  12. Rothchild says:

    Wait, did you just bring up the Academy Awards?

  13. martin says:

    It’s always Oscar season here at MCN.

  14. IOIOIOI says:

    DAMN IT! IT’S NOT OSCAR SEASON ON THIS PLACE UNTIL TORONTO! No early Oscar talk. All that is holy… give me two more months of solid or week opening discussions, Dark Knight discussion, and Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2. Yeah, I go there.
    Nevertheless, it’s too early tos tate what the effect of Iron-Man will have on Downey’s career. If you remember properly Iron Hater (Heat’s new nickname because of his full fled hatred of Iron Man… without hyphen because it makes the SSoS lose it), Tobey was really not much until Spider-Man. Heck… he’s not much now without Spidey, but the guy is starting a family.
    Let us contrast this with Downey. Whose really in the prime of his life. After previously squandering the prime of his life 10 years ago. Women find him hot, men want to be him, and he plays a rather iconic character now.
    Do you really want to bet against TONY STARK from here on out? Really? I think you need to re-evaluate this decision of your’s Iron Hater. It’s not like you have not been WRONG… WRONG… one more for the peeps… WRONG about everything releated to Iron Man. So why stop the losing streak? Does someone need a hump-buster? I think he does.
    Oh yeah… how can you have movie stars in this cultural climate? We build people up and knock them down in the time most of the established stars had build a career. Do you really think Bossom Buddies Hanks’ would have found a career in this day in age?
    It’s just a different world now. It’s more about the movie than the star. The day may come when we have a huge international movie star again, but this may have to do with man or woman then the world around him or her.

  15. IOIOIOI says:

    If you notice with the first paragraph. The mere mention of Oscar season drove me into a tizzy. I apologize for my outrage, and will try to control my anger in the future.

  16. martin says:

    IO, this is a serious question, are you on drugs? Either prescribed or self-prescribed, just curious.

  17. IOIOIOI says:

    Martin, it’s cunt responses such as the one above that makes me want to throttle the lot of you. Seriously… you have to be a cunt to even think something like that (Oh wow… I can be silly like MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET! Good lord. Some of you people act as if you have never once thought of a silly thought in your entire freakin lives. It boggles my mind that you all are so fucking serious, that you have a hard time with someone being silly on a blog ran by DAVID POLAND OF ALL PEOPLE! The guy is sillier than I have ever been), and you are even cuntier if you are trying to be funny. It’s not fun. It’s not funny. It’s ridiculous. Fuck you, sir. Fuck you, very much.

  18. IOIOIOI says:

    I do not suffer foolishness, but this blog is full of fools. FOOLS who somehow get paid to work in the BIZ. I am at a loss as to how some of you get through the day without going on this blog or Wells’ blog, and being assholes to people. It is absolutely astounding to me that grown adults act this way. If you are looking to cast aspersions. You really need to pull a Michael Jackson, look in the mirror, and let’s move the fuck on.
    You people are fucking astouding. The hell with this thread. Bring on something else, IH.

  19. IOIOIOI says:

    Sorry for coming off so Myerish. My bad. Carry on… wayward sons.

  20. martin says:

    There’s nothing wrong with taking drugs, I just think you’re on the wrong ones. Some suggestions: Adderall for your ADD and lithium for your bipolar disorder.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    IOI, I beg of you, stop using the c-word. It makes you look like a terrible person prone to fits of insane rage.

  22. LexG says:

    IO, “Iron Hater” is awesome.
    Even though I’m mildly indifferent to that movie and don’t even believe DP actually “hates” it, there’s something absurdly amusing about that, just like most of IO’s giddy vernacular.

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    I just got back from seing “Hancock,” and all I can say is: Don’t read anything else about the movie before you see it. Not even supposedly spoiler-free postings on this blog and others. Don’t read reviews (well, don’t read any except mine, because I can guarantee I won’t spill any beans) and don’t even talk to friends who have seen preview screenings. Seriously. I walked in knowing virtually nothing about the plot — and I am ever so glad I did. There has been some bogus info about the plot posted here and elsewhere already — so be careful where and what you glance at.

  24. David Poland says:

    Agreed, Joe… though I was careful about avoiding any real info in the piece I just wrote and posted.

  25. David Poland says:

    P.S. Much of the “bad information” wasn’t bad. But they changed the film, which is why test screening reviews are bullshit.

  26. Joe Leydon says:

    David: I would say your posting is safe to read. (I know that sounds like the most left-handed of compliments, but I can’t be any more specific without, well, spoiling the very thing you reference.)But I repeat: Folks who haven’t seen the film, and who want to enjoy it to the fullest, should avoid certain postings — and, to be honest, certain other blogs. To be brutally frank, it’s movies like this that make me regret the creation of the blogosphere.

  27. IO, not sure if you’re bothering with this thread anymore, but…
    “Do you really want to bet against TONY STARK from here on out? Really? I think you need to re-evaluate this decision of your’s Iron Hater. It’s not like you have not been WRONG… WRONG… one more for the peeps… WRONG about everything releated to Iron Man. So why stop the losing streak? Does someone need a hump-buster? I think he does.”
    David says to not bank on “Tony Stark” in movies that aren’t Iron Man, which is a very fair call. Johnny Depp got solid grosses out of Secret Window, Mexico etc post-Pirates, but nothing since has even approaching the grosses of Pirates apart from Chocolate Factory. He’s a big star, sure, and I’m sure Downey Jr will get some decent sized grosses under his belt, but unless he’s cast in another big budget blockbuster (I doubt he’s the kinda guy who will be interested in that, quite frankly) then I think it’s fair to say he’s not going to be getting to $200mil again until 2010 with Iron Man 2.

  28. “He’s a big star, sure” refers to Depp btw. Bad punctuation there, sorry.

  29. leahnz says:

    ‘the mosquito coast’ (a weir clasic, imo, along with ‘witness’, tho far less tidy and conventional) is river’s movie, start to finish

The Hot Blog

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin