Career Watch is a regular column by veteran film reporter and Moviefone guest blogger Anne Thompson looking at the career of a major Hollywood star, analyzing the moves they've made thus far and offering career advice on where they could or should head from here. This week: Nicolas Cage.

Bottom Line: A solid marquee draw in the right project, cash-strapped Nic Cage, 46, is taking on too many roles, increasing the odds that he'll pick weak vehicles and make audiences forget what a daring and gifted actor he is. After 60 movies, he's starting to repeat himself.

Signature line: "Put the bunny back in the box," -- 'Con Air.'

Latest Misfire: Cage came up with the idea of playing a magician in a live-action movie inspired by 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' sequence in 'Fantasia.' The actor gives a solid performance in the $150-million movie developed, produced and directed by the team that delivered the goods in 2004's PG franchise 'National Treasure' and its 2007 sequel, 'Book of Secrets.'
Career Watch is a regular column by veteran film reporter and Moviefone guest blogger Anne Thompson looking at the career of a major Hollywood star, analyzing the moves they've made thus far and offering career advice on where they could or should head from here. This week: Nicolas Cage.

Bottom Line: A solid marquee draw in the right project, cash-strapped Nic Cage, 46, is taking on too many roles, increasing the odds that he'll pick weak vehicles and make audiences forget what a daring and gifted actor he is. After 60 movies, he's starting to repeat himself.

Signature line: "Put the bunny back in the box," -- 'Con Air.'

Latest Misfire: Cage came up with the idea of playing a magician in a live-action movie inspired by 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' sequence in 'Fantasia.' The actor gives a solid performance in the $150-million movie developed, produced and directed by the team that delivered the goods in 2004's PG franchise 'National Treasure' and its 2007 sequel, 'Book of Secrets.'

But 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' was roundly rejected by both critics (its Tomatometer score was 40 percent rotten) and audiences on its opening weekend, scoring only $17.4 million Friday through Sunday. This marks the lowest weekend launch ever for a Jerry Bruckheimer-Cage collaboration: the duo have historically hit $20-million-plus openings. What looked good on paper to Disney did not compel filmgoers to rush out to buy tickets. Some critics complained that Cage ceded too much screen time to his young protege, Jay Baruchel.

Career Peaks: From the start, Cage fearlessly tested his mettle in a wide range of projects, from his uncle Francis's 'Rumble Fish,' 'The Cotton Club' and 'Peggy Sue Got Married' (Cage changed his name from Coppola) to the Coen brothers' zany comedy 'Raising Arizona' and Norman Jewison's romance 'Moonstruck,' opposite Oscar winner Cher. The youthful Cage made an endearing goofy leading man who was willing to take chances, eating cockroaches in 'Vampire's Kiss' and sporting a snakeskin jacket as he channeled Elvis in David Lynch's Cannes-winner 'Wild at Heart.' After holding his own opposite John Travolta in John Woo's demanding character/actioner 'Face/Off,' Cage reteamed with Woo on the ill-fated World War II actioner 'Windtalkers.'

Awards Attention: Cage won the Oscar for his all-out performance as an alcoholic who drinks himself to death in 'Leaving Las Vegas.' He was also nominated for his dual role as twin brothers (aspects of the film's screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman) in Spike Jonze's 'Adaptation.'

Biggest Problem: Overexposure, formula familiarity -- and that hair. For an actor who says he approaches acting like jazz, Cage has starred in too many Bruckheimer action pictures with the same plot -- 'The Rock,' 'Con Air,' and 'Gone in 60 Seconds' all blur into one another so much that some critics accuse Cage of making the same movie over and over again. Familiar markers: t-shirt, stringy hair, racing against time to seek truth, multiple explosions and a flashlight. And who can distinguish between 'The Weather Man,' 'Family Man,' 'Knowing' and 'Next'? Cage shouldn't have to do the obligatory sequel to 'Ghost Rider,' which is written by David Goyer and directed by Mark Neveltine and Brian Taylor of 'Crank' fame.

Assets: The guy can act. No matter how strange and awkward he can be in person (he should stay away from Comic-Con), Cage is an experienced veteran who knows what he is doing. The guy is willing to try anything, from cockroach-swallowing horror roles to 1000-year-old wizards. And he never phones it in, no matter how bad the movie. Cage's ability to carry action films, romances and comedies have kept him constantly employed. He can be scary, loverly and hilarious, sometimes all in the same movie. Like it or hate it, his vengeful assassin-dad in 'Kick-Ass' and drug-addicted detective on the loose in 'The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans' were not easy to pull off. "He's daring," says the agent. "I am always intrigued by his movies."

Current Gossip: Cage has not only played Elvis, but briefly married his daughter, Lisa Marie. (He's been married three times and has two kids, Weston and Kal-El, after Superman, a role he almost played for Tim Burton.) Although he's a multi-millionaire, Cage is an obsessive collector (yachts, jet, cars, skulls, shrunken heads, Bahama island) who can't seem to hang on to his real estate. At one point he owned 15 homes (including a castle), some of which were decorated so strangely--from miniature trains to comics collectibles--that they weren't easy to sell. Even after earning $50 million last year, he lost the $24 million Bel Air mansion once owned by John Wayne to foreclosure after not being able to raise $7 million. Word is, Cage has to take every role he is offered in order to stay ahead of his mounting debts. This is not good.

Next Step: Already this year, Cage has four films in the can. First up is Dominic Sena's period horror B-flick 'Season of the Witch,' opposite Ron Perlman and Ulrich Thomsen. Cage also co-stars with January Jones and Guy Pearce in Roger Donaldson's drama 'The Hungry Rabbit Jumps,' does voice work on the animated feature 'The Croods' (2012) and stars opposite Amber Heard, who plays his daughter, in Patrick Lussier's action-thriller 'Drive Angry 3D' (2011). Cage is reportedly prepping Joseph Guinian's horror film 'Office Paranormal,' Joel Schumacher's action thriller 'Trespass' opposite Nicole Kidman, and a remake of 'The Courtship of Eddie's Father.'

Career Advice: He should also stop producing movies like the comedy/drama 'A Thousand Words,' starring Eddie Murphy, which Paramount has yet to release and may go straight to video. Some of Cage's worst pictures were ones he produced, including 'Bangkok Dangerous,' 'The Wicker Man,' 'The Life of David Gale,' and the aforementioned "Sorcerer's Apprentice.' His 2002 directorial debut, 'Sonny,' starred James Franco and grossed $30,000 at the box office. The best way for Cage to improve his status as an A-list movie star is to make fewer movies. "Nic works a lot," says one top talent agent. "So he makes more bad movies than others. He's so talented. His career ebbs and flows. But I wouldn't buy crepe."

Anne Thompson -- who has served as Deputy Editor of Variety.com and The Hollywood Reporter, West Coast Editor of Premiere and Senior Writer at Entertainment Weekly -- writes a daily blog on indieWIRE, Thompson on Hollywood. You can check out some of her latest posts here:

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