The three basic points in David Gritten‘s 4.24 Telegraph piece about the waning of movie stardom (“Have Stars Lost Their Shine?'”) is that (a) yes, movie stars ain’t what they used to be, (b) they’re certainly getting less upfront cash and are increasingly settling for back-end deals but (c) they’re still pocketing relatively hefty amounts when they agree to make big dumb-ass CG Eloi tentpole films.
Bottom line: The idea of getting humungous paychecks for films that aspire to quality and class and end-of-the-year awards is pretty much out the window.
(a) “Increasingly fewer films are dependent on big-name stars for financial success. Instead, they’re mostly driven by a simple, compelling conceit, a remake of a success in another medium (The A-Team, Prince of Persia) or by being part of a lucrative franchise (Iron Man 2, Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After, Twilight: Eclipse).”
(b) “But these films are pre-sold to the public on their overall concept. If they happen to feature stars whose popularity has recently dimmed, it doesn’t matter; they’re not the most important factor.. Movie stars are in decline because, for better or worse, movies simply no longer need them.”
(c) “Huge fees for stars have come to look like a ludicrous luxury. These days, actors who less than a decade ago were receiving $15 to $20 million upfront are now taking a modest advance and a share of back end profits — if any. Look back six or seven years, when leading A-listers included Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Denzel Washington. One cannot say any of them is bigger now than then.”
(d) “It’s a telling reflection that at the height of Avatar‘s success, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana could have walked the length of Oxford Street without being stopped or recognized.”