While browsing around online this morning searching for a good poll topic, I happened upon The Movie Blog where our buddy John was pondering (when is he not pondering?) the decline of Denzel Washington's career. Sure, Deja Vu opened third this weekend with a respectable $20 million, but there was a time when it was all about Denzel -- you couldn't mention the words 'black actor' without his name coming up, while women everywhere fantasized about Denzel sweeping them off their feet. However, and John points to this as his possible downfall, ever since the man took home a Best Actor Oscar for Training Day, his star power has slowly faded and, now, his appearance in a film does not guarantee it a number one slot at the box office. That's not to say his acting has gotten worse -- in fact, he's one of the only actors who consistently makes good films. But something is missing. Denzel is no longer Denzel.
Personally, I feel we're at an interesting time right now, and those huge, A-list box office champs are slowly fading from power. In its fourth week, Babel has only grossed $12 million, despite the fact that Brad Pitt is in it. Granted, it's only played in over one thousand theaters for two of those four weeks, but that's still a low figure for such a big name. They're offering Will Ferrell $29 million to do Elf 2, but Stranger Than Fiction tanked in theaters (only $22 million). Pretty soon George Clooney will find his way back onto the big screen in The Good German, though there's a pretty good chance that film won't do too well either. And what about Blood Diamond -- will Leo DiCaprio attract a decent audience for that pic? Probably ... not. So, is it that these men are still popular, but only when surrounded by three or four other supposed A-listers? Have we gotten so used to ensemble pieces (Ocean's Franchise, The Departed), that one man just can't carry a film anymore? Or, are our favorite hot shots on their way out?
So, I ask you: Does the power of an A-List actor still exist? Or, does it only exist when it's surrounded by two or three other A-list actors?