A Blog on Cinema

Why stars matter


If you look at the movies of M&Ms, most of them have been successes. Mammotty had a roll in 2005 which continued in 2006. Mohanlal had six hits from the previous Onam to the current one. Apart from these two actors, only Dileep and Suresh Gopi had some amount of success.

Why do stars matter? Why are the M&Ms still able to give good movies while others like Jayaram and Jayasurya are not able to? Recently Paramount Studios dumped Tom Cruise after a 14 year old deal. In analysing the economics of the stars based on this event, the New York Times had an article

“Movies with stars are successful not because of the star, but because the star chooses projects that people tend to like,” said Arthur S. De Vany, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of California, Irvine, who has written extensively about the economics of moviemaking. “It’s a movie that makes a star.”So what are stars for? By helping a movie open — attracting lots of people in to see a movie in the first few days before the buzz about whether it’s good or bad is widely known — stars can set a floor for revenues, said Mr. De Vany.

“Stars help to launch a film. They are meant as signals to create a big opening,” he said. “But they can’t make a film have legs.”[A Big Star May Not a Profitable Movie Make ]

Commeting on the article, Marginal Revolution says

But many stars — or their agents — are good at picking the right movies to star in. Other more critical inputs, including good scripts and marketing expenditures, follow these stars around. The value of the star drops out of the regression, but the star was still the key certifier to get the quality put into the movie in the first place.[Why Paramount dumped Tom Cruise]

Even in Malayalam movie industry’s context, this is true. Superstars get to choose the best scripts and best directors. Good directors and script writers work exclusively with top stars only. Movie planning gets started once the producer gets the star’s dates. Very rarely scripts and directors are ready before the star is chosen. As Sibi K. Thomas and Uday Krishna told , only script writers like M. T. Vasudevan Nair write without the actor in mind. This combination of star along with good director and writers ensures fantastic opening for the movie.

For the above scenario to change the producers should be willing to take risk to try non star actors and along with top directors and script writers. The real need for change should come from the audience, till then stars matter.

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