CATEGORIES Features, Hot Topic
For the past 10 years, the movie studios have been overly focused on star power. The indie film movement of the '90s petered out with the end of the century and the industry began to focus on actors who could open movies with only their names.

The hopes of young filmmakers who had been inspired by 'Clerks' or 'El Mariachi' were dashed by dozens of cookie-cutter blockbusters. However, this year the tide has turned. 'Paranormal Activity' just broke the $100 million mark at the box office, earning it a spot among a very elite group.

Only seven other movies without star power have earned more in the past 10 years; three of them are from the past two years. It's time for young believers to start those cameras rolling again. For the past 10 years, the movie studios have been overly focused on star power. The indie film movement of the '90s petered out with the end of the century and the industry began to focus on actors who could open movies with only their names.

The hopes of young filmmakers who had been inspired by 'Clerks' or 'El Mariachi' were dashed by dozens of cookie-cutter blockbusters. However, this year the tide has turned. 'Paranormal Activity' just broke the $100 million mark at the box office, earning it a spot among a very elite group.

Only seven other movies without star power have earned more in the past 10 years; three of them are from the past two years. It's time for young believers to start those cameras rolling again.


'The Hangover'(2009)
$276,979,556
One could argue that that this isn't a no-name movie. The main stars have worked regularly in entertainment the past 10 years. Director Todd Phillips made 'Old School' and 'Road Trip.' Plus, Mike Tyson sings and Heather Graham shows some boob. However, no one guessed that all these factors would add up to such a huge hit. A good comparison to 'The Hangover' is 'The 40-Year Old Virgin,' 'but the Hangover' made almost triple what 'Virgin' made at the box office.

'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'
(2002)
$241,438,208
Nia Vardalos had been doing this story to small audience as a one-person show in Los Angeles. Then Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson saw it and everything changed. They got the film green-lighted and Nia took it from there. The little romantic comedy that could still trumps lady-juggernaut 'Sex and the City,' which made $152,647, 258 at the box office.


'Slumdog Millionaire'
(2008)
$141,319,928
Director Danny Boyle has delightfully surprised fans with films like 'Trainspotting' and '28 Days Later,' but no one expected the success of 'Slumdog.' The name sounds like a gangster rapper, it's set in India, and the main character is Muslim. How could American audiences be expected to connect with that? Well, they did and so did the critics. Eight Academy Awards later, it brings hope to filmmakers all over the world.


'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)
$140,539,099
Just when the studios began to become more concerned with stars, this little horror flick scared the bejesus out of the nation. Using viral marketing and shaky cameras that induced motion sickness in some audiences, it set the bar that all young horror filmmakers continue to shoot for now.


'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon''
(2000)
$128,078,872
Before Ang Lee taught us to love gay cowboys, he showed us how to love subtitles. Generally, Americans are believed to be lazy consumers. We don't want to read our movies. However, with no real star power and elegant kung fu, the Taiwanese director showed us a completely new side of China and cinema.


'District 9' (2009)
$115,646,235
With a director who had never done a feature and a star who had never acted before, this movie made audiences love intelligent sci-fi again. Good sci-fi films have always cast a new light on contemporary issues, like HG Wells' 'The Time Machine.' With the popularity of horror-thrillers, however, most directors focused on scaring crowds rather that provoking them. Hopefully more filmmakers will follow director Neill Blomkamp's lead.

'American Pie'' (1999)
$102,561,004
It was 'Porky's''for the 90s. A bunch of unknown young actors fretted over the only thing teens really think about, sex, and we all loved it. Paul and Chris Weitz gave the genre a much needed update and every successful teen comedy has been following suit for a decade. That is, until 'Juno' changed things again.