Monday, June 14, 2010

Are Today's Stars Easily Replaceable?

Just because you have a famous face, doesn't mean you're not expendable. An article on Jam Showbiz points out the growing trend of high profile replacements. Of course, there's Megan Fox's removal from the Transformers franchise and the Terrence Howard/Don Cheadle swap in Iron Man 2. Then there's the buzz that Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene took things to the brink with salary demands for the Breaking Dawn films. They managed to hold on unlike the original Victoria, Rachelle Lefevre who lost her role to Bryce Dallas Howard in Eclipse. When the news of their ousting first hit the web you may have experienced distress, disappointment or perhaps just concern for the character's sake, but after the initial blow, did you ever think twice about it?

Take a look at Howard's situation. Whether it was really all about the money or not, Howard's chance to put on the War Machine suit was snatched away by Cheadle. Both are fine actors, but it's hard to let go of the guy you met in the first film, right? Wrong. When the news first arrived back in October of 2008, it came as a shock. Was there anything any movie fan could do about it? No. Was Cheadle at least a top-notch replacement? Yes. When the time finally came for Iron Man to return to theaters, I doubt most recalled the original Jim Rhodes and, if they did, it didn't make them enjoy the film any more or any less.

This provides a perfect taste of what's to come in Transformers and Eclipse's case. Fox and Lefevre are memorable faces, but certainly not irreplaceable ones. As Jam Showbiz points out, the stars of Transformers are the robots, not Shia LaBeouf. The loss of the Autobots and Decepticons would be a devastating blow, but there are a bunch of curly-haired cuties who can pick up where LaBeouf left off. The same goes for The Twilight Saga. Supporting cast members are able to reap the benefits of the franchise's success, but it's the main players -- Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner -- that hold it together.

On the other hand, the situation with the Spider-Man franchise can demolish even the biggest star's assurance. There's no reason to think that dropping Tobey Maguire and starting over would have a higher chance for success than bringing the original team back and just focusing on making film four as high quality as the first and second. So is anyone safe? How would you feel if we lost one of the boys in The Hangover in round two? If they were all replaced, probably enraged, but if Justin Bartha slid his way out and maybe Chris Pine took his spot, it'd be like getting a shot; you feel a nice jab, but within a few moments it's like nothing ever happened.

However, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and all other series headliners have to be on alert because there's no denying that this reboot craze has the power to slide their long term deals right out from under them. The Hangover: The College Years, I can see it now. It's only been three years since the last Spider-Man film and the suits are ready to wipe the slate clean and start over. For all we know Iron Man will stop dead in its tracks and we'll have Iron Man Jr. or some nonsense coming our way. Not that the Scream vets were expecting to take the franchise beyond film three, but at least Wes Craven is giving them a proper sendoff in the new installment after which we'll be expected to latch on to the fresh faces.

It's a scary thought, but whether it's for financial reasons, personal issues or bad attitudes, everyone's disposable regardless of how famous your face is. Not everyone is as lucky as those Harry Potter kids to make it to the end of an eight-film series. Some just have to enjoy it while it lasts. - Perri Nemiroff via Cinematical

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