There is an interesting story in the LA Times this weekend discussing films that have been shut down by their studios, mainly Believe It of Not! and Used Guys. Both of these movies were killed mostly because of rising production costs, but they also were both to star Jim Carrey, one of the most expensive actors in Hollywood. Now, on a movie with a budget above $100 million, as each had, Carrey's salary is only about a minor percentage of the costs, but it is still rather high for someone who couldn't draw audiences to his last two movies (Fun With Dick and Jane and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events). Used Guys was an especially costly film as far as talent goes, with Carrey's salary joined by Ben Stiller's and director Jay Roach's. The three cut their prices and the film was still too expensive (supposedly their combined salary still took up half the budget). When asked to cut more, the stars refused and the film died.
There has been a lot of talk in the media over the past year about stars not being worth their fee and about stars not drawing like they used to. Both of these things might be true, and obviously Stiller has had a good run of bombs over the years (his slump ended with Meet the Fockers), so why can't the stars see it? Are they really in need of all that $20 million can buy? Or are they simply greedy businessmen who no longer care about the art, the craft and the audience? I may come across as anti-capitalist with this reasoning, but certainly in a supply and demand world, the demand is the more important part. And demand for stars is just not there anymore.
If I was to buy a ticket for Used Guys, it wouldn't be because of Carrey and Stiller, and definitely not because of Roach, who hasn't shown any extra-spectacular talent to warrant a big salary. I would have bought the ticket because I thought the movie would be funny, or that the story would be entertaining. With a comedy more than most films, the actors do contribute to the funny, but with so much comic talent in Hollywood right now, there are no two actors who are made for any of the comedic roles. Used Guys could likely be made with the leads replaced by the Wilson Brothers, Steve Carrell, Vince Vaughn, Jack Black, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, the Wayans Brothers, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell or a number of younger, B-list stars. The movie would be a different movie depending on the combination, but as long as the script was good, it would be good, right? Think of some of your favorite movies and some that you think are the funniest. Do they have huge stars? I bet if they do, the stars weren't yet stars when the film was made.
[via Hollywood Wiretap]