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no grownup movies, and no stars… is it all interconnected?

CNN.com/EW.com asks, “What happened to movies made for grown-ups?”:

Give Robert Downey Jr. a glass of scotch and a suit made of metal, and lines will form around the block. But cast him as a newspaper columnist who befriends a cello-playing homeless man, and these days the only crowds gathering will be for the movie playing next door.

Anne Thompson at Variety.com asks, “Are Boomers Abandoning Movies?”:

The current climate of fear causes less risk-taking and variation, said Kennedy. “They’re all looking for the same thing. Tentpoles costing $150 to 200 million, formula pictures aimed at moviegoers 16 to 24, who are the movie-going demo. That’s what’s working. It’s frustrating as a filmmaker. I’ve been in the business 20 years. My taste changes, evolves. Yet the baby boom generation is not going to the movies anymore. Few movies work in that demographic. I realize if I’m going to stay active and get movies made, I have to focus on what the studios want. They don’t want movies that fall in the mid-range right now. They want big movies.”

Respected British actor James Nesbitt is being forced to turn to Hollywood to find work (according to U.K. outlet Broadcast):

James Nesbitt is being forced to look for Hollywood acting roles because of the funding crisis in British drama.

The Cold Feet and Muphy’s Law actor, who also stars in BBC1’s Occupation next week, told the Radio Times that the UK TV industry was in a “desperate state”, and that he was having to look to the US for work.

He said Hollywood did not naturally appeal to him – “the notion of waiting six months to play a baddie in a bad film just wasn’t my idea of career utopia” – but that he had now employed a US agent.

TheStar.com of Toronto asks, “Why 2009 is shaping up as the Year of No Stars”:

[M]ovies without A-list names above the marquee have been doing similar boffo business to The Hangover.

The recent reboot of Star Trek was considered risky for its dearth of boldface. Who had heard of Chris Pine (Capt. Kirk) or Zachary Quinto (Mr. Spock) before last month? But the film hit the ground running and it has big legs, being the first this year to cross the $200 million mark.

Most people have heard of Paul Blart: Mall Cop by now, and may even have seen it. But few could have named star Kevin James before the film’s January release; many would still have trouble picking him out of a police lineup of pudgy guys.

Ireland’s Liam Neeson was considered a solid B-list actor heading toward character roles and retirement. His rescue thriller Taken was deemed a dumper at the top of the year, since it had already been released outside of North America in 2008 and had been widely pirated on the Internet. But the film connected big-time with North American audiences, transforming Neeson into the most unlikely of A-list action stars.

(Never mind that anyone who watches TV — anyone who’s aware of the biggest hits on TV — know damn well whom Kevin James and Zachary Quinto are. And the idea that Liam Neeson is some sort of hot up-and-comer is truly bizarre. But this is how Hollywood and some of its watchers are thinking.)

Interconnected? Or coincidence? Discuss.

Updated: June 16, 2009 — 7:47 am

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