Jen Yamato July 8, 2010
Star power can be a fickle mistress, as many an A-lister has discovered the hard way. No longer drawing in the summer blockbuster crowds? Dismissed as a one-hit wonder? Stuck in movie hell? Most movie stars and Hollywood wunderkinds have fallen into a rut at one point or another, but sometimes those ruts seem downright cavernous and we celeb-watchers wonder if and how our fave stars will ever climb back to the top.
Whether bad scripts, weirdo religions, or a few too many brushes with the law are truly to blame, these five famous persons may find 2010 to be a particularly make-or-break year. Who’s most in desperate need of a hit, and will they find it sooner rather than later?
Arguably the most successful comedian of his Saturday Night Live generation to transition from sketch comedy success into a feature film career, Will Ferrell enjoyed a run of hit comedy films throughout the ’00s (Old School, Elf, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Blades of Glory). And then came last year’s Land of the Lost, the big-big-budget adaptation of the Sid and Marty Krofft series that cost $100 million to make and only made $68 million back. Worldwide.
Ferrell’s box office rep took a hit after that bomb, but he has two chances to mount a comeback this year. In August’s The Other Guys, he’ll ham it up opposite Mark Wahlberg (who could also use some movie star mojo since his last star vehicles were The Lovely Bones, Max Payne, and The Happening). In November, he puts his best supervillain voice to use in MegaMind, a DreamWorks animated adventure. But does Ferrell still have the funny to bring audiences to the multiplex?
Of all the people in Hollywood who put the “desperate” in the title of this list, Lindsay Lohan’s got the most to lose. Once an innocent, freckle-faced Disney star, Lohan was a promising actress-singer when she carried Mean Girls to box office success at the age of 18. She was just beginning to transition into interesting, more mature roles (A Prairie Home Companion, Bobby) when substance abuse and DUI arrests began to overshadow her acting career.
By the time Lohan starred in the abysmally-performing, critically derided indie thriller I Know Who Killed Me in 2007 (which nabbed Lohan her first Razzie award), even critics seemed to feel sympathy for the starlet on the downward spiral. Here’s to hoping that 90 days in jail (per her most recent sentencing for violating probation), along with her appearance in Robert Rodriguez’s September flick Machete, will set Lohan back on the path towards movie stardom — and that she’ll be out of the clink in time to film the potential comeback vehicle Inferno, a biopic of porn actress Linda Lovelace.
Some may argue that, since he’s one of the more enduring marquee stars of the ’80s and a mega-gazillionaire producer in his own right, Tom Cruise isn’t in dire need of our sympathy. I’d point those people to the box office receipts of Knight and Day, the light romantic spy adventure starring Cruise and fellow movie star/tabloid topper Cameron Diaz that has yet to break $75 million worldwide on a $117 million budget.
Thanks to middling reviews and Cruise’s own increasingly impotent star power (audiences haven’t forgotten all that couch-jumping Scientology business), Knight and Day went from being fail proof-on-paper to one of the summer’s most forgettable flops. Good thing Cruise signed on to squeeze out another Mission: Impossible flick, in theaters in 2011. Message to Cruise: stick with Ethan Hunt and skip the Les Grossman spin-off, pretty please. We’ll buy you as a weirdly calm, semi-dangerous dude, but nobody wants to watch as you awkwardly dance to hip-hop in a fat suit.
The others on this list may need hits to put them back on top, but Megan Fox needs one just to prove she belongs in Hollywood — because, successful as Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen were at the box office, we still don’t know exactly how much of those successes can be attributed to the slinky, gorgeous 24-year-old with a penchant for comparing directors to Hitler. (By sheer coincidence, Fox’s feature debut came as Lindsay Lohan’s rival in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. List buddies!)
Fox’s eccentric persona aside, she really does need to prove her bankability in films not dominated by CG robots. Her first major non-Transformers vehicle, Jennifer’s Body, was promising… at least until it became apparent that nobody — even hetero males, ostensibly Fox’s fan base — was buying tickets. The box office anomie continued with this summer’s Jonah Hex, which in Fox’s defense, was a hacked-to-pieces mess despite her tightly corseted turn as a pistol-wielding prostitute. So was Megan Fox a one-note wonder? Will the sure success of a Fox-less Transformers 3 only further emphasize her ineffectiveness at the box office? Can any amount of controversial bon mots and cleavage shots propel Megan Fox to bona fide movie star status? Only time will tell.
M. Night Shyamalan
It used to be that M. Night Shyamalan could draw moviegoers on the sheer strength of a film being an M. Night Shyamalan joint. Those days (i.e., the early 2000s) are gone. Blame fan fatigue; after The Village, Lady in the Water, and The Happening, even Shyamalan loyalists were done wondering if the filmmaker could get his Sixth Sense groove back.
And so, having become known as a one-trick filmmaker with a rep for being difficult (see: break with Disney) and a string of less-than-dazzling films under his belt, M. Night Shyamalan seemed to make one last, desperate grasp: he took on a big budget adaptation of Nickelodeon’s anime series The Last Airbender. The resulting pic had “work for hire” written all over it and earned Shyamalan the worst reviews of his career — but it also performed decently at the box office, making $51 million in a four-day opening weekend second to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse‘s $83 million number one performance.
If the box office holds out, The Last Airbender may just turn out to be the film that puts Shyamalan back into Hollywood’s good graces, commercially speaking. He might even make a return to vintage Shyamalan movie making. Let’s just hope the results are more like The Sixth Sense and less of the “Mark Wahlberg running from the wind” variety.
Categories: No CategoriesTags: Jonah hex, Lindsay lohan, Megan fox, Will ferrell