New research shows what the rest of us already knew – actors like Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, and Lindsay Lohan make too much freakin’ money. According to The New York Times, Sumner Redstone was correct in cutting Tom Cruise loose from Paramount Pictures last week, not because of his aberrant behavior, but because his star power doesn’t deliver the box office goods.
“There is no statistical correlation between stars and [a film’s] success,” said S. Abraham Ravid, a professor of economics and finance at Rutgers University, who, in a study of almost 200 films released between 1991 and 1993, found that after eliminating other factors influencing the success of a film, a star had no impact on its rate of return.
Even studio chiefs acknowledge that a star does not guarantee success. Bewitched, starring Kidman, cost an estimated $85 million but took in only about $62 million at the American box office by late 2005. “If you pay a star a great deal of money for a film that people don’t want to see, then it won’t work,” said Sidney Sheinberg, the former president of MCA Universal.
Looking across a sample of more than 2,000 movies exhibited between 1985 and 1996, they found that only seven actors and actresses — Tom Hanks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jodie Foster, Jim Carrey, Barbra Streisand and Robin Williams — had a positive impact on the box office. Only two directors, Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone, pushed up a movie’s revenue. Research found the Hollywood Buzzkill Award goes to Winona Ryder, Sharon Stone and Val Kilmer – they were associated with a smaller box-office revenue.