We seem to have a shortage of movie stars these days. Could such a thing be possible? I mean, more movies are oozing out of the dream factories these days, but fewer and fewer stars possess the power to "open" a movie.
"We didn't need dialogue! We had faces!" Gloria Swanson said in Sunset Boulevard, regarding the stars of the silent era. And indeed, it's hard to imagine just how big the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin or Mary Pickford truly were, compared to anyone we have today.
Of the ten biggest movies from last year, I'd say eight of them scored because of their sheer spectacle, or because they were classified as "tentpoles," i.e. movies that have name brand recognition (Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc.). You could argue that Tom Cruise lent something to the success of War of the Worlds, but the remaining two were Wedding Crashers, a true word-of-mouth comedy hit, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, perhaps the one movie driven by its star power.