Stars Bomb at the Box Office

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Aug 21, 2009 3:29 AM CDT
Denzel Washington, who failed to pack in the crowds for "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3," refused to cut his usual movie payment of $20 million in a new film negotiation this month.    (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
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(Newser) – Hollywood executives are scratching their heads over why so many mega-wattage stars are failing to fill movie houses. A record number of usual box-office successes like Denzel Washington, Will Ferrell, Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks came up short, in some cases not even attracting enough viewers for producers to break even, reports the New York Times. “The cratering of films with big stars is astounding,” said one observer. “These supertalented people are failing to aggregate a large audience, and everybody is looking for answers.”

Some analysts attribute competing home entertainment options for the difficulty of luring consumers off the couch, as well as a burgeoning paparazzi culture that makes stars all too human and less special. Hollywood is responding by slashing costs and dickering with stars. Washington last month refused to take a cut from his usual $20 million fee for a movie down to a mere $16 million.