Hollywood’s numbers game can be remorseless: When stars fall, they go out with both a bang (a flop) and a whimper (a quiet markdown on their price tags). Redemption can come only one way-with a hit that will gladden a studio’s heart by fattening its wallet. Some actors, of course, are beyond such petty pecuniary issues-they’re worth having at any price. Here’s who moviemakers are paying for right now-and what they’re getting in return.
Clear and Present Danger
A genuine bargain; not only has he starred in seven of the top 25 pictures of all time, but he has surefooted taste in selecting solid, mainstream material.
Jungle Fever and White Men Can’t Jump demonstrated his range as an actor. Since then, he’s shrewdly sold himself as an action star in Passenger 57 and Demolition Man, earning an international following and driving up his price.
Interview With the Vampire
Novelist Anne Rice argues that he’s not worth two cents as her vampire Lestat. But Cruise has an enviable track record — he hasn’t had a genuine flop since 1985’s Legend.
When she sticks to playing sexy bad girls, Stone displays keen marketing instincts. Her return to playing a femme fatale in The Specialist should restore her international cachet.
His penchant for roles in ”controversial” issue movies that pack a violent punch (Basic Instinct and Falling Down) keeps him at the head of the pack. He may have inherited a movie star’s genes, but he’s also developed a producer’s knack for knowing which hot buttons to push.
$3.25 million plus 12.25%
Don Juan Demarco and the Centerfold
The legendary Brando is worth his weight in publicity, especially with an autobiography coming out this fall. His presence guarantees that attention will be paid and foreign bookings will roll in.
NOT WORTH IT
Robert De Niro
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
His name above the title didn’t help the flops This Boy’s Life, Mad Dog and Glory, or A Bronx Tale. Some insiders believe he actually keeps people away.
He proved to be a leading man in Pretty Woman but was not worth $7 million in the tepid Intersection. First Knight, his first costume epic since the ludicrous King David, is a high risk.
Beverly Hills Cop III
Murphy lost his white following with Boomerang and The Distinguished Gentleman. He needs to lure them back for this summer’s second sequel to the biggest action comedy of all time, or else lower his price tag.
I Love Trouble
Nolte saw his price jump $3 million after The Prince of Tides. But he doesn’t open movies: Lorenzo’s Oil, Blue Chips, and I’ll Do Anything all performed weakly.