You used to see them all the time. Back in the day when you'd actually go and visit a video store, you'd stare in disbelief. You would find yourself, standing there surrounded by over priced candy, dusty DVDs (or VHS tapes depending on your age or geographic locale), and bored teenagers and you'd notice a movie with a (former) Hollywood star that you'd never heard of. "Hey, I didn't know that ____________ made this movie!" The blank in that previous sentence could be filled with any of the following stars: Nicolas Cage, Antonio Banderas, John Cusack, Wesley Snipes, and so on. These were heavy weights. Big box office stars who could command large paydays. You could work your entire life and not earn what Antonio Banderas made for "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever" That film, by the way, cost at least $70 million to make and earned less than $20 million worldwide. That is a huge bomb. Giant. Awful. Ghastly. And yet he has not only continued to make movies, but continues to be paid handsomely. How does this happen?
How can a system support such underperformers? Think of your place of work. Imagine the absolute worst employee (you know them), now imagine that person continually working, being promoted, and getting raises - for life. Would that happen at your company? I hope not. I hope that your organization rewards performance and contribution. Why is Hollywood not like that?
Hollywood provides everyone a chance to bask in the glow of the projector's golden light. Producers, directors, writers, and stars. If you happen to find yourself with a few million dollars and a desire to see your name on your television head to Hollywood. People will gladly take your money to make a very terrible film. They'll bend over backwards telling you about your great ideas and helping to assemble a very mediocre movie. If you actually succeed in completing a film, and you can bank a once-famous star, you are halfway there to success in an international market. Most of the world cannot get enough of our B- and C-list movie stars. If your film is made cheap enough, you may actually see a profit. If not, at least you have the story to tell. Meanwhile, Wesley Snipes can pretend that he did NOT get a multi-million dollar paycheck to walk through your movie.
This system has to stop. It is embarrassing. It is terrible. It is proving Kurt Sutter's recent comments about copyright and the quality of entertainment. Basically if we are not willing to pay the right creative people to entertain us, we are going to be given work by the wrong creative types. These types.
Nicolas Cage has 74 film credits on his imdb.com page. 16 of them in the last five years. Here is a sampling of what he has created for our viewing pleasure:
- The Frozen Ground
- The Croods
- Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
- Seeking Justice
- Drive Angry
- Season of the Witch
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice
I know, you're thinking "hey, "The Croods," that was OK. My kids liked it. And wasn't it nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature?" Yes, it was. That is besides the point. It wasn't nominated due to Nick Cage's amazing voice talent. It was nominated in spite of his contributions. And somehow, in this crazy system, it redeemed him. Can't you see? People are clamoring for his return to greatness. After McConaughey won the Oscar, isn't it time for Nicolas Cage to return to his roots? Don't we all remember the searingly good performance he gave in "Leaving Las Vegas" for which he won Best Actor? That was NINETEEN years ago. Since then, he has done exactly ONE decent movie ("Adaptation") and FORTY TWO terrible ones. How do we allow this to happen? When will this madness end?!??
PS - Wesley Snipes has 59 credits on imdb.com. His last major movie was Blade: Trinity back in 2004. Since then he has put out 11 more films AND served time in jail for tax evasion. How is this possible?!?