Movie stars’ stock plummets

We all know that the stock market has been plummeting in recent weeks. But what's dropping even faster is the stock Hollywood studios put into the value of movie stars. This past weekend's disastrous opening of Warners' costly "Body of Lies" was just another nail in the coffin. Buoyed by the presence of two mega-stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, with Ridley Scott in the director's chair, the Middle East spy thriller was supposed to easily win its weekend. Instead, it finished No. 3 -- behind "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," a Disney talking-dog movie, and "Quarantine," an anonymous low-budget thriller from Screen Gems -- grossing a paltry $13.1 million. 

The math is ugly. In the past, Warners had spread the risk around. If you look back at other expensive Warners flops, the studio was always shrewd enough to recruit a partner who put up a hefty piece of the budget, as it recently did with "Speed Racer" (co-financed by Village Road Show). But for "Body of Lies," which Warners insists cost less than $100 million (rival studios say higher), Warners had no safety net -- it put up all the money, which means the studio could take a substantial loss.

(LA Times)

Film Business, Hollywood

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