A bombshell report in Variety has finally openly discussed something that we have been talking about for a few years here at Last Movie Outpost. Just where have all the movie stars gone? We talk about Tom Cruise being, potentially, the last of the great matinee idols and wistfully Retro Review great action movies from the 80s. We wonder who will replace Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis, and their peers. The Variety article quotes those at the Cannes Film Festival echoing our sentiments.
According to the report, the most sought-after movie up for sale at the Cannes marketplace this year was the Cliffhanger sequel. A 76-year-old action star returning to the movie he originally made in 1993. Buyers are lining up because the script is seen as highly commercial. A big adventure film that can work across many territories and can bring crowds.
So where is the new talent to headline an action movie and can have the same appeal? As one sales agent at Cannes said:
“Over the last 10 years, we’ve done a really shitty job of creating a new generation of movie stars.”
Movies up for sale at Cannes this year included Breakout starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (75 years old), Lords of War starring Nicolas Cage (59 years old), That’s Amore starring John Travolta (69 years old), and The Rivals of Amziah King starring Matthew McConaughey (53 years old). This is before you get to 80-year-old Harrison Ford premiering his sequel to a franchise that first appeared in 1981 – Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
Where are their replacements? Where is the next generation? According to George Hamilton, COO of Protagonist Pictures, the collapse of the DVD market since 2008 is to blame. But how?
“Nearly all of the actors and actresses who are [bankable] now had very successful films when DVD and video was still a huge force. You could see that as a dividing line shift in terms of older or newer generation. With the new generation, there’s more divisions between success because you could have the most-watched show or film on a streamer. But there might be a whole swath of society who might not subscribe, and they’re not part of that.
There’s much, much, much less people in that younger age bracket who are household names by virtue of the way in which their films or TV have reached audiences because of streaming. So, you have to maximize the value of the new generation of stars and really ensure that there is clarity of concept, clarity on genre, really knowing who the audience is so you can really appeal to distributors.”
Also, it seems this highly connected, “always-on” social media world, where stars’ thoughts and opinions are on display for the whole world, instantly, is a factor. With the mystique being removed from movie stars once we get to see inside their heads, studios are keener to focus on IP over star power. Director-producer Aaron Kaufman has worked with many of the stars from the Twilight franchise and he pointed to that franchise as where things started to turn:
“Obviously, the Twilight IP was the star there. The shift to promoting IP over stars may have sounded like a good idea because IP doesn’t overdose or tweet about Nazis. However, this shift has left the cupboard bare when it comes to next-generation stars. This is an issue now that the IP stores have been cleaned out and all that’s left is Tube-Sock Man or whatever Marvel has yet to make.”
The sales agent, who remains unamed, also touches on this thread, but comes at it from a different angle. They claim the shrinking movie star phenomenon has to do with the long-term contracts that rising actors like Tom Holland (26), and Chris Hemsworth (39) signed with Marvel as well as the streaming shift:
“We used to treat our movie stars like gods, but the marketing of these streaming movies is so limited that it doesn’t really create stars. Actors aren’t burned into the minds like they once were, and they don’t have this larger-than-life image any longer.”
Movies that debut on Netflix or Prime Video don’t have expensive global marketing campaigns that accompany major theatrical releases, and as a by-product push the profile of movie stars into the stratosphere. So is Hollywood now reaping what it sowed?
Check back every day for movie news and reviews at the Last Movie Outpost