Friday, August 25, 2006

Is Star Power on the Decline

An interesting article in the Los Angeles Times about the decline of bankable star power in today's Hollywood.

In the wake of the Cruise/Paramount scandal, there are a lot of articles in the trades lately that are speculating that star power is not what it used to be. There are more and more films breaking through and becoming surprise hits that feature very little to zero star power. This summer "Step Up" features zero star power, cost $12M to produce and has already earned over $44M at the box office. Lionsgate's "The Descent" features no recognizable stars and has earned $23M domestically after a HUGE foreign theatrical run. It is positioned now to make millions on DVD sales.

"Celebrity is less powerful now," said Jeff Fenster, an executive at Jive Records who helped discover pop superstars Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. "Just because a film or album stars a big-name celebrity doesn't guarantee success anymore. And Hollywood craves making money above everything else."

Even Sumner Redstone, chairman of Paramount owner Viacom Inc., suggested in an interview Wednesday that parting with Cruise after a 14-year business relationship had more to do with the profitability of his recent films than with his off-screen antics.

"There is no question that the box office is affected by other distractions such as the Internet and video games," Redstone said. "Studios make peanuts compared to the stars, and unless they learn how to say no and demand more for less, they won't survive."


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