Monday, January 7, 2008

Update: Women and Movie Stars

This just in: the Quigley Poll, which I don't entirely understand, just had its numbers released: The Quigley Poll seems to be a strange beast: it is supposed to tell us the top 10 most successful movie stars of the previous year, but it does so by polling the exhibitors, not by simply adding up the box office grosses of the stars in question. In some ways this makes sense - if you go to box office mojo and look at career box office earnings, Christopher "Count Dookruman the White" Lee will be pretty high, since he happened to be in 2 Star Wars movies and 3 Lord of the Rings Movies, even though no one knows who he is. So, instead of mathematically trying to work out how important each star is to a film's success, they just poll the people who should know: movie theater owners. Here's the list of most bankable stars of 2007:
1. Johnny Depp
2. Will Smith
3. George Clooney
4. Matt Damon
5. Denzel Washington
6. Russell Crowe
7. Tom Cruise
8. Nicholas Cage
9. Will Ferrell
10. Tom Hanks

Here's what MSNBC and every other media outlet noted: "
For the first year in 24 years, a female actress was not included on the top 10 list." Damn. If the era of the movie star really is over (note: George Clooney is supposed to be case-in-point that the movie star is dead, but he's number 3 for 2007), the era of the female movie star seems to be deader than the era of the male movie star. At this point, I have no thoughts on why this might be. I'm sure I'll suggest something eventually.

Overall, I'm skeptical of this "poll." First of all, the Clooney factor. Sure Ocean's 13 did great business, but that was a sequel with tons of stars that people actually wanted to see. Michael Clayton was 10 times better - no dice. What about Nic Cage? If being a movie star means, as this article suggests ( , option 3) that you can bring people into a movie that no one wants to see just by being in it, Nic Cage certainly doesn't count. He had a great run with National Treasure 2, a sequel with an inexplicably established fan base and the Bruckheimer name on it, but completely bombed with Next. Next, which you may not have heard of, co-starred Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel, one of Hollywood's current "It" girls, and was a semi-supernatural adventure yarn with a metacritic rating of 42. National Treasure 2 has a lower-wattage cast, outside of Cage himself (in the Quigley poll, I'm sure Biel would be higher than Ed Harris and Harvey Keitel combined), and only has a 48 on metacritic - it's not a better movie. But people had no interest in Next, just because it had Nicholas Cage in it. Or maybe they just thought it was an adaptation of the MTV show.

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