The Hollywood machine was created to build stars. Stars can be packaged and promoted. And once the stars are big enough, they can move product. If you have a big enough star in your movie, then you are almost guaranteed to make money on your movie once the international and DVD rights are sold off.
So the incentive to create and land stars is obvious. It takes the risk out of a very risky business. But what if a star is created and no one buys into his or her star power? What if Hollywood decides someone is an A-list player, but then it turns out that said person can’t actually put people in the seats? And that ultimately is the test of star-power (even though the Hollywood machine, agents and managers make every effort to come up with less measurable metrics such as the number of invites to PDiddy’s Hampton’s bashes).
An example. The case of Colin Farrell. Farrell is the quintessential rising movie star. He’s in the magazines. He’s known for being a playboy. He’s got a little bit of that bad-boy edge. He’s sold as sexy. He is allowed to be wildly uninteresting during talkshow appearances (the ultimate measuring stick of one’s star power). There is simply no doubt that Farrell is a Hollywood A-list creation.
But here’s the problem. Movie goers don’t really seem to agree. His latest movie, Alexander, has been a terrible bust. Sure, it’s getting bad reviews and it’s a long R-rated movie released during an era and a season when short, family oriented picts are where the money is.
But we’re talking about dismal numbers here. After endless promotion by Farrell (and Angelina Jolie and Oliver Stone), Alexander has only pulled about $21 million at the box office. Spongebob made that much in popcorn sales.
Christmas with the Kranks beat Colin.
So you’re thinking that maybe this was just an aberration. We love Colin, we just hate this movie. Well, let’s take a look at Farrell’s career. Which movie provides us with an example of a blockbuster or of a mediocre film that still managed to bring in box office numbers because Farrell was the lead?
What if Colin Farrell really isn’t that big of a star?