Star Wattage Dims As No-names Front Hits

By Robert Marich
   June 29, 2009 – The year’s top movies don’t have big name stars – like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Disney’s animated Up -- while star-led flicks have a mixed track record, notes a Los Angeles Times article that says Hollywood is watching if this emerges as a permanent trend.
   “The studios stocked this summer's release schedule with so-called star vehicles, including Land of the Lost with Will Ferrell, Year One featuring Jack Black, the comedy Imagine That with Eddie Murphy, and Denzel Washington and John Travolta in a remake of The Taking of Pelham 123,” notes the article by Claudia Eller. “But rather than igniting ticket sales, the star-studded movies have dramatically underperformed.”
   The article continues: “So far, the summer's most profitable film has been Warner Bros.' surprise hit The Hangover, a $35-million-budget R-rated comedy about a bachelor party in Las Vegas that boasts not a single household-name actor but has reached $183 million in U.S. ticket sales since its June 5 opening and is expected to exceed $200 million. Other summer hits like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen showcase eye-popping visual effects along with up-and-coming talent.”
   In the wake of movies with high paying stars performing unevenly, Hollywood is re-evaluating salaries, notes the Los Angeles Times article.
   Top stars receive $20 million in upfront and escalators – contingent bonus payments – if films prove hits.
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