Sunday, September 4, 2016

Topic Of The Day: What Makes A Movie Star?


A while ago, I read a very interesting article on Variety called "Movie Stars Do Matter" which talks about how the underperformance of Ben-Hur this weekend and the importance of the movie star. That article brought up very interesting points about how Hollywood shouldn't waste away $100 million on a non-tentpole with an unknown actor as the star which is what happened with Ben-Hur as it rested on the shoulders of Jack Huston who's a talented actor but is not well-known to the moviegoing public.

That article had me wondering to myself: What DOES make a movie star? As I thought about it, and it may be difficult to explain, but a movie star always has to have that "something" that holds people's attention. Whether it'd be a special trademark that an actor has on screen like Julia Roberts' smile and laugh or the way Jennifer Lawrence photobombs other celebrities on the red carpet, a star always has some type of charisma that captures the public eye.

Even if you look like a movie star, it doesn't automatically mean you are one. Take, for example, someone like Chris Hemsworth who definitely has leading man looks and is a solid actor. But on and off screen, he doesn't have the same kind of easy-going accessibility as someone like Chris Pratt who is someone that women think is sexy and seems like the kind of guy men would want to grab a beer with.

Another factor in being a movie star is making even the most mundane film you're in better. For example, even though Lucy received middling reviews, leading actress Scarlett Johansson was still singled out for her performance and she successfully carried the film to a $43m opening and then it eventually made over $400m worldwide.

Also, Joy was a complete misfire but one thing that critics and audiences agree on is that Jennifer Lawrence saved the entire picture. I remember talking to a fellow critic who said that if it weren't for Jennifer Lawrence, Joy would've been one of the worst movies of the year. While it made only $100m against a $60m budget, it's still impressive considering the dismal reviews and even its premise about the inventor of a mop.

Lastly, one thing that makes a true movie star is adapting to different genres. If one can pull off being an action star, a romantic leading man or woman, and a dramatic thespian, then you've achieved box office gold because it shows that audiences will follow you anywhere regardless of the genre or a film's premise.

So those are what I think movie star qualities are: Versatility, Accessibility, and getting audiences through the Mundanity. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!