On Friday, Netflix started streaming Don’t Look Up, a big-budget satire starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Tyler Perry, Ariana Grande, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Timothée Chalamet.

It certain appeared like a must-watch occasion, combined evaluations be darned. Casts so ultracelestial — embarrassments of movie star riches — don’t come alongside on daily basis.

Except that now they do.

One star taking part in Spider-Man? How quaint. Spider-Man: No Way Home, launched in theaters Dec. 17, has three A-listers in Spidey spandex: Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire. No Way Home, a runaway hit on the international field workplace, taking in $1.05 billion for Sony Pictures Entertainment as of Sunday, additionally stars Zendaya, Jamie Foxx, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Willem Dafoe and Jon Favreau. About 43% of opening-weekend viewers within the United States cited the forged as the explanation they purchased tickets, in keeping with PostTrak surveys. Twenty p.c particularly cited Zendaya.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way Home. (Photo: Sony Pictures through AP)

Guillermo del Toro’s newest artwork movie, Nightmare Alley, stars Bradley Cooper, Blanchett, Toni Collette, Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Mary Steenburgen and David Strathairn. (They have 22 Oscar nominations for appearing and three wins amongst them.) Other current examples of star ensembles embody The French Dispatch, Red Notice, House of Gucci, The Harder They Fall and the superhero story Eternals, which Disney marketed with 11 names above the title. (Angelina Jolie! Kumail Nanjiani! Salma Hayek!)

In the months forward, Universal will release The 355, a spy thriller anchored by 5 feminine stars, together with Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz and Jessica Chastain. Disney will roll out a starry Death on the Nile remake, and Focus Features is getting ready Downton Abbey: A New Era, which reassembles the franchise’s ensemble forged. Netflix is engaged on The Adam Project, a science-fiction journey (Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Catherine Keener), and The Gray Man, a thriller starring Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Ryan Gosling, Billy Bob Thornton and Regé-Jean Page of Bridgerton fame.

“Someday, someone will decide to make one movie with two Batmans — oh, wait, it’s happening,” Terry Press, certainly one of Hollywood’s high entrepreneurs, mentioned with signature dryness. She was referring to The Flash, a superhero film from Warner Bros. that’s scheduled for late subsequent yr; Ben Affleck’s Batman will seem alongside Michael Keaton’s Batman.

Taken one movie at a time, star amassment is nothing new. Grand Hotel (1932), Thousands Cheer (1943), It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Towering Inferno (1974) and all the Ocean’s 11 franchise come to thoughts, to not point out Marvel’s current “Avengers” films.

All of a sudden, although, they’re in all places.


“Stars matter — always have, always will — and Hollywood retreats to them, leans harder on them, when it gets nervous about a wandering audience,” mentioned Jeanine Basinger, a movie scholar and the creator of Hollywood histories equivalent to The Star Machine, which examines the outdated studio system. “Stars are insurance — for studio executives who want to keep their jobs, certainly, but also for viewers: ‘Is this movie going to be worth my time and money?’ ”

Describing Hollywood’s buyer base as “wandering” is quite form. AWOL could be extra apt.

The pandemic appears to have hastened a worrisome decline on the field workplace for bread-and-butter dramas, musicals and comedies — all the things besides leviathan fantasy franchises and the occasional horror film. Spider-Man: No Way Home collected $260 million within the United States and Canada on its opening weekend. Total ticket gross sales for the 2 nations totaled $283 million, in keeping with Comscore. That means No Way Home made up 92% of the market. Nightmare Alley, which was launched on the identical weekend, performed to nearly empty auditoriums. It took in $2.7 million.

The overwhelming majority of opening-weekend ticket patrons for No Way Home had been below the age of 34, in keeping with Sony.

Between Friday and Sunday, the Spider-Men remained the largest home draw, taking in roughly $81.5 million. The animated Sing 2 (Universal-Illumination) was second, with $23.8 million in ticket gross sales. Warner Bros. didn’t generate a lot curiosity in The Matrix Resurrections, which took in a feeble $12 million in third place; it was additionally out there on HBO Max.

The King’s Man (Disney), the third film in Matthew Vaughn’s action-comedy collection, collected $6.4 million, a consequence that one field workplace analyst described as a franchise “collapse.” (American Underdog, a faith-based sports activities drama from Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, managed $6.2 million on Saturday and Sunday alone.)

Streaming providers have picked up an enormous portion of the viewers, notably older folks. But competitors among the many providers has grown excessive, with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, Hallmark Movies Now, BritBox and dozens extra combating for subscriber progress. Stars assist: Netflix is writing megachecks for A-list actors ($30 million to DiCaprio for Don’t Look Up) and ensemble franchises ($465 million for 2 Knives Out sequels).

“Stars matter more than ever,” mentioned Bryan Lourd, a Creative Artists superagent who orchestrated the Knives Out deal. “When stars meet material that is their fastball, it cuts through all the noise.”

There are different explanations for the barrage. In a severely disrupted market, stars are searching for security in numbers; nobody individual may be held answerable for failing to ship an viewers, as with Nightmare Alley. Movie advertising has additionally modified, changing into much less about carpet-bombing prime-time TV with advertisements and extra about tapping into social media fan bases. Grande has 284 million Instagram followers. (Pity DiCaprio and Holland, with solely about 50 million every.)

Basinger, who based Wesleyan University’s movie research division, famous that particular person star energy has pale. Studios have turn out to be fixated on mental property — preexisting franchises and characters. As a consequence, there was much less of a have to manufacture new stars and maintain the older ones burning scorching; Iron Man, Dominic Toretto, Wonder Woman and Baby Yoda are the celebrities now.

“In the old days, movie stars were the brands,” she mentioned. “They reached the whole audience. Not a slice of the audience. Everybody. But that all fell apart. Now, it’s about adding up niches.”

In different phrases, few stars stay bankable in and of themselves, requiring Hollywood to stack casts with an virtually absurd variety of celebrities. Flood the zone.

And don’t overlook Hollywood’s favourite sport: Follow the chief. Avengers: Endgame, which packed its forged with Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen and a dozen different boldface names, grew to become one of many highest-grossing films of all time in 2019. On a a lot totally different scale, an all-star remake of Murder on the Orient Express in 2017 was additionally a box-office winner.

“It’s trendy at the moment,” Tim Palen, a producer and former studio advertising chief, mentioned of what he known as an “all skate” method to casting. “Not new but certainly symptomatic of the battle for attention that’s raging.”

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