Using the career arc of Orlando Bloom, Sharon Waxman argues that today's stars can't open a film and are unable to fill box office coffers. Bloom rose to prominence as the elf Legolas in The Lord of the Rings trilogy before moving on to Troy, Kingdom of Heaven and Elizabethtown.
Stardom came easier to the young only a decade or two ago. At 23, Tom Cruise grasped it with the release of Top Gun in 1986, and flaunted it two years later by turning a vehicle as slight as Cocktail into a major hit. Julia Roberts was a superstar at 22, after the success of Pretty Woman in 1990, and Leonardo DiCaprio was just 23 when Titanic turned him into an international screen presence in 1997.There are just so many problems with this argument that I just don't know where to begin. Firstly, this smacks of the same excuses for this summer's box office drop off. It's because of DVDs, video games, an ancient curse, etc., etc., anything to take the spotlight off the awful films that were released.
All quickly rose into Hollywood's top salary tier - the ranks of the $20 million actor, or thereabouts - and achieved bankable status with nervous executives who were willing to make a costly film because these actors were in it.
Look at the movies referenced as star makers: Top Gun, Pretty Woman and Titanic. All three are in the Top 100 box office earners, with Titanic leading the list. Hardly a fair comparison to Kingdom of Heaven now, is it? I remember when Titanic was playing and nobody was saying, 'Hey, let's go see that Leo DiCaprio flick.' The argument seems to be that if there had been anyone else in the lead role of these movies, they would have been forgotten about.
The right casting can add to a great film, but no actor can save drek. It wasn't Orlando Bloom that sunk Kingdom of Heaven. Maybe it was a film about a Middle Eastern crusade when the U.S was invading an actual Middle Eastern nation that put people off. Of course if Russell Crowe was in it, it would have been huge. Sure, just look at Cinderella Man.
It's not the stars that got small, it's the pictures.