I’ve been saying for some time now that having a big “A” list name in a movie does not draw people to the theatre like it used to. Many have argued with me, and some of them make some solid and great arguments (but I’m still right).
An article was in the New York Times that I read today thanks to a reader pointing me to it. It basically says what I’ve been saying all along… only with more intelligence than I seem to be able to muster:
Yet, if you ask economists and other academics that study the movie industry, Mr. Redstone’s decision (to let Tom Cruise go) was, in financial terms, spot on. The best reason to get rid of Mr. Cruise or, for that matter, Mel Gibson, or Lindsay Lohan, is not their occasional aberrant behavior. They, like most marquee names in Hollywood, are simply not worth the expense.
Mr. Eliashberg (a professor of marketing, operations and information management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania) is part of a growing cadre of academics studying how movies are made, financed and distributed. Most are finding that the studio’s assumption that big stars will increase a movie’s bottom line is simply wrong.
“There is no statistical correlation between stars and success,” said S. Abraham Ravid, a professor of economics and finance at Rutgers University, who, in a 1999 study of almost 200 films released between 1991 and 1993, found that once one considered other factors influencing the success of a film, a star had no impact on its rate of return.
The article is actually a fascinating one that if you have a few minutes you should read over. The article ends by saying that the only efects stars have is maybe a few extra people in the first day or 2 of a movie being opened.
Oh… and they say there is one other reason Studio Execs like to hire big stars for their films:
Mr. Ravid, the Rutgers professor, suggests that stars serve as insurance for executives who fear they could be fired for green-lighting a flop. “If they hire Julia Roberts and the film flops, they can say ‘Well, who knew?’ ”
Too funny. You can read the whole article here.