Russell Crowe’s career as an A-list star — i.e., a guy who gets the $15 million-or-higher fees and a first-look at the best scripts — is on the ropes. Despite his latest film Cinderella Man having gotten a 99% favorable CinemaScore grade last weekend, which means it has fantastic word-of-mouth behind it, Crowe’s recent telephone-throwing incident has so turned people off, it appears, that they’re pulling away from the 1930s boxing flick. How else to explain the fact that last night’s Cinderella Man earnings (for Friday, 6.10) of $2,848,000 were down over 50% from last Friday (6.3), when the Ron Howard film took in $5,905,225 on opening day? (Last weekend’s total was a less-than-expected $18.3 million.) What other possible reason could there be for a first-rate, very well-liked film dropping this heavily on its sophomore session? On the day of the Mercer Hotel phone-throwing incident a journalist wrote and said, “There goes [Crowe’s] Oscar nomination.” Now that Crowe has single-handedly turned Cinderella Man into a financial disappointment, it’s hard to avoid a suspicion that his ability to demand the big bucks may be in great peril. Hollywood hardballers are going to look at what happened this weekend and draw some very blunt conclusions. Then again, he is Russell Crowe, a great actor and a guy who can bring real gravitas and authority to a part. But if audiences are going to look at his films when they open and say, “Screw it, I don’t want to pay to see that thug” — like they apparently did this weekend — then he’s going to be making a lot less and he won’t be as much in the running for the best parts, and that means Crowe will probably be attending the IFP Spirit Awards next February and trying out his new indie cred.