Sunday, October 5, 2008

British stars dying in America

The circular firing squad that was the box office this week (roughly ten new significant releases) ended with Simon Pegg's film, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, bleeding on the ground. The box office death of another hyped British star trying to cross into the American market makes this a good time to raise this question - has there ever been a bigger gap between acting fame in England and in America?

Almost every touted British star that has tried to cross the pond lately has met with less than expected success. Ricky Gervais just had his film Ghost Town do ho-hum business. Steve Coogan has never quite caught on. Cillian Murphy. Colin Farell. Orlando Bloom. Sienna Miller.

Even the ones who have had success haven't had quite the success expected. Clive Owen is well known, but never quite the star expected. Christian Bale, great actor that he is, is the most anonymous Batman, and that's what he is best known for. Along those lines, Daniel Craig isn't nearly as famous here as he is in England. He's still slightly "the new Bond." Famous as she is, most of Keira Knightley's non-Pirates box office success has been in presitge indies that are profitable compared to costs. She hasn't had her own star vehicle box office smash yet.

There are exceptions. James McAvoy might be one. But maybe not quite yet. Still, it's interesting to contemplate.


Anonymous said...

But how many American stars are automatic box-office draws in the U.S. these days...? The age of the movie star is over; we're well into a time of hype, event movies, and sequels. If anything, I think serious filmgoers are more apt to pay attention to who's directing: they go to see a Coen brothers film, the latest by Ridley Scott or Clint Eastwood, etc.

Gibson said...

Been following Orlando Bloom's career for a while and right now it seems he cant even get a role, that might be because people finally noticed he is all looks and no talent. James McAvoy has talent so I think that is why he has been successful. I think Robert Pattinson is the next British star to look out for. His tween movie Twilight is coming out next month and will really draw more than Tweens out to the theaters.

I believe with the above poster, I don't think movie stars have the same draw they used to have very few are bankable stars now. Hollywood seems to be changing and people are looking for more than the "movie star" to draw them to a movie and it doesn't necessarily mean they are only looking who is directing as Ridley Scott had a huge flop a few years ago with Kingdom of Heaven but most of the failure fell on the casting of Orlando Bloom in my opinion. I think today's audience is looking for the whole package with plot and script drawing people to see the film more so than a big named star. I believe that is why indie films are so enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Bloom: judgment is in. However, for everyone one of him, there are thousands more like him who never even got as far he did, for whatever reason.

MacAvoy, Pattinson: in the same position as Bloom early in his career. Too soon to say they have talent.

Filmgoers will see what they want to see, whether it's big-budget schlock like Transformers or small indies like Juno, regardless of star power or the whole package. But I do agree that hype has a lot to do with it. Transformers, Juno, Atonement, Twilight: all hype. Same with directors. Remains to be seen if Twilight is more than hype. Doubt it though

About British stars, or more specifically, non-American stars, there is a bias. Not surprising as Hollywood is American-born and raised. If you can't master a decent American accent, you won't get far. Quite a few British and Australian actors have a decent career but you won't know where they're from by their accent. Or I should say lack of accent. They look and sound American.

K. Bowen said...

Some good thoughts, guys (or gals) and it's true, there are not as many bankable stars in the same sense as years past. Still, I think it was easier for the last generation of British stars to break into the American market 10-15 years ago - Winslet, Day-Lewis, Hugh Grant, etc. - than it has been for the present. Insert Hugh Grant punny joke here.