September 28, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Shooting Stars: Which Hollywood Superstars Are Losing Their Edge?

depp pirates

In an article originally published in January, Gabbing Geek asked whether Johnny Depp was intentionally trying to end his A-List movie star status.  The quirky Depp may be tired of franchises, but there are other A-listers who seem to be on the same downward trajectory.  They, however, don’t seem to WANT to be shooting stars.  Whose careers are in the toilet and what can they do to can back on top?  We at Gabbing Geek investigate!

Other than Depp, there are some other reliable box office titans who can’t seem to buy a hit.  Let’s look at the domestic numbers!



Biggest Hits: ID4 ($306M), I Am Legend ($256M), Men In Black ($250M)

Last Big Hit:MiB 3 in 2012 ($179M)

Recent Duds: Focus ($53M), After Earth ($60M)

What’s Gone Wrong:Smith started believing his own hype.  The movies became more about him than the production and it felt like things suffered.  Plus, he tied his string of hits to his talentless son, Jaden.  I don’t think Suicide Squad is going to do much for him if it is a hit, but if it bombs it will play into this narrative of fading icon.

What He Should Do Next: Turn the reins over to a talented director.  Scan through his recent filmography.  No directors are there that could call the shots.  Smith should say yes the next time Tarantino comes a calling and let the director’s vision take over.  Last time, he told Tarantino to make changes to Django Unchained to make it less morally uncertain.  Yeah…



Biggest Hits: Big Daddy ($163M), Grown Ups ($162M), Waterboy ($161M)

Last Big Hit: Grown Ups 2 in 2013 ($133M)

Recent Duds:Pixels (In Theaters), Blended ($46M), Cobbler (Less than $1M), That’s My Boy ($36M)

What’s Gone Wrong: America has grown up.  His schtick isn’t funny.  I wrote in my review of Pixels that Adam Sandler REALLY knows what America is laughing at in 1998. It’s tired and we are kind of done laughing at the same dumb joke.

What He Should Do Next: He has the Netflix deal in place so that’s a step in the right direction.  But if he is just moving his crap from the big screen to the small screen, I am not optimistic.  I would give him the same advice as Smith above.  Work with good writers and directors instead of the Happy Madison crew.  When Sandler does the Punch Drunk Love type films, he is good but loses his built in audience.  Let’s try doing the same with his comedies.  Work with Adam McCay or Edgar Wright (I’ll admit, Sandler did try this with Apatow…) and show that he can act as well in smart comedies as he can in dramas.



Biggest Hits: Sweet Home Alabama ($127.2M), Four Christmases ($120.1M), Walk the Line ($119.5M)

Last Big Hit:Four Christmases in 2008!!!

Recent Duds: Hot Pursuit ($35M), Good Lie ($2.7M), This Means War ($54.7M)

What’s Gone Wrong: I was surprised at Witherspoon’s box office numbers.  She’s never been a big star.  It’s just that she doesn’t even seem to have the moderate hits anymore.  Hot Pursuit ended the notion that she could deliver the big bucks.

What She Should Do Next: Decide if she wants to be a star or an indie darling.  Wild wasn’t a box office smash, but it was a respectable for an art house flick and garnered Reese an Oscar nom.  If that’s fine, stick with that and occasionally limp in with a dull, broad comedy  for the payday (See: Martin, Steve).  If she wants to be more relevant to the mass audience, it might be time to look to HBO.  TV is where you can do quality and find popular appeal.  Have Witherspoon at the top of a smart show with a great supporting cast.  Add an Emmy to go with her Oscar and then she can cherry pick the movies she does.



Biggest Hits: Grinch ($260M), Bruce Almighty ($242M), Liar Liar ($182M)

Last Big Hit: Bruce Almighty in 2003 was the last to perform relative to budget.

Recent Duds:Christmas Carol ($137M against a $200M budget), Mr. Popper’s Penguins ($68M), Incredible Burt Wonderstone ($22.5M)

What’s Gone Wrong: He’s Sandler meets Tom Cruise without any of the charm of either.  He is doing the same, tired bit AND espousing an unpopular set of beliefs in an obnoxious manner (anti-vaxxor!).  Good luck doubling down with Jenny McCarthy, PhD.

What He Should Do Next: Just go… the…. hell… away.  NEXT!


ryan reynolds sad

Biggest Hits: The Proposal ($163M), Safe House ($126), X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($180M)

Last Big Hit: Safe House in 2012

Recent Duds:Self-Less (In theaters: estimated $13M), RIPD ($37M on a $130M budget), Change Up ($37M), Green Lantern ($116M on a $200M budget)

What’s Gone Wrong: All his hits are someone else’s movies. The Proposal is a Sandra Bullock hit.  Safe House featured Denzel on the poster.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine starred…WOLVERINE.  Ryan’s never soloed a massive hit.

What He Should Do Next: Pray that Deadpool is as good as the trailer.  Deadpool can turn his career around overnight and change our perception of him.


clooney sad

Biggest Hits: Gravity ($274M), Oceans 11 ($183M), Perfect Storm ($183M)

Last Big Hit: Gravity in 2013

Recent Duds: Tomorrowland ($92M on a $190M budget), Ides of March ($41M), American ($35M)

What’s Gone Wrong:  The world didn’t accept a perfectly charming movie that was Tomorrowland.  That should have been a hit for him, but…it wasn’t…

What He Should Do Next:  Let’s get Clooney a smart, cable or Netflix series.  The world needs a new Breaking Bad or the Wire.  Let’s get Clooney on the phone.


There are a few other names that might join this list as soon as their franchises play out.  If you take away Tony Stark or Wolverine, how well are Robert Downey, Jr and Hugh Jackman really doing?  Might we look at their careers differently if we focused more on The Judge and Chappie rather than Avengers 2 and X-Men Days of Future Past?  Maybe they’ll make the next installment!

Laugh with Sting while you can!
Laugh with Sting while you can!