In the gold age of Cinema Hollywood had movie stars, Men and Women who can sell a movie just by name alone; power couples Like Bogart and Bacall who can force a film over the line regardless of whether the film is good or not (but all those films are great). Since the rise of HBO, BBC and Netflix Hollywood has seen the collapse of star power formally bankable names like Will Smith simply stopped being the seat filler they once where. The era when people would flock in there millions to see the next Errol Flynn picture are long gone. In this day and age only a few can be classed as outright movie stars and one man stands head and shoulders above the rest (but more on him later).
In the Studio system that Hollywood was built on, it was a producer model that formed the base, men who knew how to make one type of film very very well, Like Samuel Warner who was the king of the gangster film. some would argue that it was the power of these producers that would draw 65% of the population to the cinema. But it is my belief that is the Stars like James Cagney who put bums on seats in massive Odeon’s and Seating room like Nickelodeons all over the world. These films would have men like Cagney acting as hard men one week then dancing the next. Yes it could be claimed that these actors are often type cast as the tough man, the romantic or the down on his luck chap. Hollywood was able to take any script put it with any director, in most cases, and make a hit film with an actor that they had on there books. Chopping and changing as shooting would go on to make a hit and make stars out of the men and women who were in these films. Now this could be down to the fact that there was war on or the economy was in the dump and people wanted to escape there life and watch glamorous women like Audrey Hepburn and men like Cary Grant, in there fine suits or period dress for a few hours.
Since then and the rise of TV in the late 50s and 60s, saw Hollywood turn from those men and women to people like Paul Newman and Faye Dunaway, old fashioned looking actors who had the chops to act is basically anything, they were stars in there own right. taking would could be a on ordinary script and turning into a world wide hit. Marlon Brando came a long and changed the game with method acting in Films like On the Waterfront and Street Car Named Desire. These actors were and weren’t the glamour of Hollywood from the decade before they were people who still stunning to look at, you could imagine them working in your Local Pub or in your Office and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Hollywood was starting to see the decline of the outright bankable movie, the Studio system was starting to collapse, gone were the days when any old actor could be cast and the film would simply work. Films needed to be faster paced and keep the attention of the audience as they for the first time on mass they can see moving images at home on television sets.This is where you see the rise of the director people like Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg all of whom brought Hollywood in the new era. Picking talent over star power everytime. There are no Passengers in there films, ever actor is cast for a purpose because they can act, not because they have a contract with a studio. Hollywood’s once bankable star system to all but gone.
Fast forward to the modern day and Hollywood has changed again, now it is based solely on tent pole films, your franchises which are the only films that see cinemas filled. Hollywood’s once bankable stars people like Brad Pitt and Will Smith are no longer the draws they were 10 years ago, you are turning out just to see the new Chris Pratt Film you are going because you want to see the new marvel film. Hollywood can’t rely on those stars, as The Great Wall with Matt Damon or World War Z with Brad Pitt proves. This is perhaps due to over exposure of these actors who seem to be everything. Take Pratt for example, every week he linked with one project or another whether it be Uncharted or something else all together. This being said there is one great movie star left in Hollywood, one last beacon of classic cinema in a modern age, Tom Cruise.
Since Top Gun, Hollywood has looked at Cruise and seen him as a bankable star, he makes his choices carefully and this has meant that everytime i see mission impossible in a film headline I click on it, not because I love Mission Impossible but because I love Tom Cruise. He has the power to put bums on seats, if you want to see a Marvel Film at the top of the all time list of highest grossing films, put Tom Cruise in it. He is an A list superstar. I don’t think there is a city on earth he could go to without be swapped by everyone. Even my Nan, an 87 year old women who hasn’t been to the cinema since the 1960s knows who he is. He is a star. People will go out to see a Tom Cruise film, maybe not for the story but just to see him, just to see him run, jump or hang off something. He knows what people want to see the same way Bogart knew people wanted to see him play a hard hitting rough on the edges Private Eye or gangster. Cruise is for the time being Hollywood’s last movie star, he is a call back to a long gone era where cinema could be good or bad people will still go and see.
For Hollywood to continue it needs men and women who can draw out people and get them to play the high prices for a ticket, it has those people Pratt could very well be the next Harrison Ford, Scarlett Johansson could very easily be the next Lauren Bacall but hollywood won’t let them be, those actors knew what they were good at and they proved it time after time the way Arnie did at his peak, he set the base for himself as an action star, he knew he could fall back on that , then he tried something different and it worked. Cruise did the same, he proved he could act and then he should be could be an action star and when his body gives up on him he’ll go back to acting in films like rain man or Jerry Maguire. It needs those actors, people like Pratt have played the support actor for a long time, he has finally stepped out and it’s worked but can he sell a film on name alone i don’t think he can. This is not a bash on him it is just the state of film.
Hollywood at the moment is kind of lost, it need someone to come along and change the game it needs Stars again people who excite the viewer, people who you can’t wait to see again.