“Spider-Man” is a box office hero. Is Hollywood in a post-movie star era?

Welcome to the December 28, 2021 edition of the Wide Shot Entertainment Industry Newsletter. If it has been forwarded to you, sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox.

We’re almost at the end of the year, with the end of Christmas and the Omicron variant still disrupting people’s plans.

But the newsletter continues unabated at the Los Angeles Times! To top off the year, instead of the usual weekly aggregation, I’ve compiled some of my colleagues’ top stories in 2021, including investigative articles that really rocked some institutions, like the Golden Globes ( have you ever heard of it?)

Before that, a little analysis on your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, which still reigns at the box office.

It’s one of Hollywood’s hottest debates. In an era when comic book intellectual property reigns over film and television, how much importance do movie stars still have?

It has become a generally accepted truism that, especially in the case of the box office-dominating superhero fare, audiences buy tickets for the characters they love rather than the various Toms and Chrises who play them. . By this logic, the entertainment industry is in a post-movie star era, and has been for some time.

And yet, actors are still getting multi-million dollar salaries and big box office bonuses for donning the spandex. Studios have to think they’re worth a lot of money at some level.

The amount of influence that the big players still wield in the entertainment industry will be a familiar theme to regular readers of this newsletter. This was a central question on the minds of executives and agents as Scarlett Johansson argued with Walt Disney Co. over her pay for “Black Widow”. Talent still has the power to demand from media companies.

For this edition, I’m interested in what makes someone a true star in this Hollywood era. In my mind, fame connotes more than popularity. In the business sense, the designation of “movie star” is meant to signal someone whose charisma is what drives the success of any project they find themselves in. Few people qualify these days.

It’s clear that some of the old guard icons onscreen can still pull audiences into the right roles. “Top Gun: Maverick,” which most people in the industry expect to make a lot of money for when it finally debuts next year, wouldn’t work without Tom Cruise’s enduring appeal as that featured fighter pilot.

In fact, he might be the thing that brings older moviegoers back to theaters, provided the COVID-19 variants stop scaring middle-aged audiences.

But few, if any, of the latest generation of film actors can open a film based largely on their own appeal. For an occasional case study, let’s talk about Tom Holland.

Tom Holland and Zendaya star in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”.

(Photo illustration by Nicole Vas / Los Angeles Times; Steve Cohn / Eric Charbonneau for SPE)

With “Spider-Man: No Way Home” becoming the first film to gross $ 1 billion worldwide during the pandemic, one would think that the British actor, who has played Peter Parker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since “Captain America: Civil War, “qualify as a legitimate movie star.

But does he do it? Does anybody?

Pro: Many elements of the movie star formula are there for Holland. He’s arguably the face of the world’s most popular movie character, and the 25-year-old’s boyish charm has been a key part of the success of the latest iteration of the webslinger franchise.

His once childish character has matured since “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which director Jon Watts and Kevin Feige-Amy Pascal’s production crew used to filter John Hughes-style teen comedy tropes through the prism. Marvel.

Variety cited the pay raises Holland is sure to get at his upcoming concerts as proof that he could help meet Hollywood’s desperate need for a new generation of top men. Her offscreen romance with her co-star Zendaya only adds to the pop culture intrigue.

Inconvenience : Without consulting Google, how many Tom Holland movies can you think of outside of Marvel? By the time Tobey Maguire donned the Spidey costume in 2002, he had done “Pleasantville” and “The Cider House Rules”. The year after the first “Spider-Man” directed by Sam Raimi, Maguire was the frontman of “Seabiscuit,” which was all over the Oscar campaign circuit.

We have yet to see if a Dutch performance can erupt beyond the limits of Marvel Studios. He is set to appear alongside Mark Wahlberg next year in “Uncharted,” a Sony Pictures film based on a popular PlayStation video game franchise. Playing Fred Astaire in an upcoming Pascal-produced biopic could elevate Holland to a more prestigious category of film actor. He also has the upcoming Apple series “The Crowded Room”.

Zendaya is arguably the biggest star, mostly thanks to her acclaimed performance in HBO’s “Euphoria”, not to mention her fashion work and recent supporting role in “Dune”. Parrot Analytics, which measures public interest in search traffic, social media chats, and other online metrics, ranks Zendaya as the world’s most requested actor after opening “No Way Home ”.

Previous Spider-Men – Maguire and Andrew Garfield – have also skyrocketed in the rankings. Holland ranked below at No.6.

Parrot Analytics Tom Holland Zendaya Sky Map

Verdict: In the Marvel Universe, the greatest cultural juggernaut of cinema, there is no doubt that Holland is a mega-star. It’s a big problem. Beyond that, we’ll see.

Lost Thought: Traditionalists in the film industry, when arguing for the superiority of the big screen over streaming, often ask me to name an actor whom Netflix has turned into a star. Easy answer: Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things”. Still, I get the point. With movies like “Red Notice,” “Don’t Look Up,” and “Extraction,” it’s clear that the stars are raising the stature of Netflix productions. Is it going the other way?

The best of 2021

collage of photos of a CBS affiliated building, a Golden Globe statue and an aerial photo of the Bonanza Creek Ranch

(Photo illustration by Nicole Vas / Los Angeles Times; Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times; Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Colleagues at My Company Town have produced a number of investigative articles and other important journalism articles this year that have had an impact on the town. Here are some of our best tips.

The Golden Globes under fire. Stacy Perman and Josh Rottenberg’s investigation of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. close examination of allegations of self-operation and the lack of black members within the Island Awards group. NBC decided not to air the show in 2022. The HFPA voted to pass reforms. The group announced the nominations for next year’s awards this month. Here are the original stories about the HFPA’s questionable practices and its diversity issue.

Allegations of racism and misogyny on CBS television. After the departure of the head of CBS Corp. Les Moonves amid allegations of sexual misconduct, a unit of the company failed to clean up its act, Meg James reported. Executives at a CBS television station reportedly cultivated a hostile work environment that included intimidating female executives and blocking efforts to hire and retain black journalists. There was also the issue of an unusual deal that allowed one of the executives to become a member of an expensive golf club. Following the story, CBS ousted TV Stations Group Chairman Peter Dunn and Senior Vice President News David Friend.

ICM accused of tolerating sexual harassment and misconduct. Wendy Lee’s story put a microscope on one of Hollywood’s major agencies, which largely avoided scrutiny during the #MeToo movement. Prominent agent and partner Steve Alexander left the Century City company less than three months after allegations about his behavior were raised in the story. In September, CAA agreed to acquire ICM. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Behind Hollywood glamor, an Instagram account shines a light on the dark side of working people. Anousha Sakoui’s story of an online point of sale for overworked team members foreshadowed how a bitter battle between the International Alliance of Theater Workers (IATSE) and Hollywood Studios would intensify throughout the year. The struggle almost led the union to go on strike for the first time.

The day Alec Baldwin shot Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza down. Still the best story you can read about the “Rust” tragedy.


Maybe accuse Omicron of putting a stop to the holidays, but my taste for Christmas entertainment has tilted towards the deranged this year. I appreciated that Paul Rudd’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” – ​​totally ruined by COVID – usurped that horrible song “Christmas Shoes”. But nothing can surpass the utter disemboweling of Patton Oswalt’s “Christmas Shoes” into a comedic routine from 2009. It’s completely NSFW and makes me laugh every time. See you in 2022!

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